Marriage and Divorce in Italy
Marriages between Danes and Italians have become more and more common in the last 20 years. Marriages between Danes who want to marry in Italy for “romantic” reasons or live temporarily in Italy have also increased sharply in recent years.
In Italy, you are married until a divorce decree is issued
When a couple gets married in Italy, the marriage is registered in the civil register – registro di civile – and the couple remains registered as married as long as a divorce judgment is not registered. This article is a guide for the couples, both Danish and Italian, whose marriage is registered in Italy and who want a divorce.
Danish divorce is not automatically registered in Italy
If the couple obtains a divorce in Denmark, the divorce is NOT automatically registered in Italy, i.e. that cases can easily arise where a couple is divorced in Denmark, but not in Italy. Neither the State Administration nor the courts inform the Italian authorities that the parties are divorced in Denmark.
A Danish divorce grant cannot be registered with certainty in Italy
Most couples in Denmark divorce by consent if they agree on the terms. But if you read the divorce application carefully, you can see that the State Administration states that a grant cannot be recognized with certainty outside of Scandinavia.
It has happened that the Italian authorities have recognized a grant, but this has often happened because the Italian civil registry has believed that the divorce was a judgment, ie. a decision made by a court. Often, however, the register has rejected a grant and directed the couple to bring the case to the Italian high court (tribunale d’appello) with a view to obtaining recognition of the Danish grant.
It is a slow and expensive procedure and therefore we recommend that the parties contact a lawyer who is both a Danish and an Italian lawyer and who ensures that the case is brought before Danish courts, even if the parties agree.
It does not have to be an expensive or conflict-ridden divorce, as the couples declare in court that they want a divorce judgment and otherwise agree on the terms.
If the parties meet the financial requirements to obtain a free process, the parties do not have to pay for legal assistance. In contrast, a divorce case in Italy always takes place at the expense of the parties, as it is not possible to have a free process in Italy.
Once the divorce judgment has been handed down, the lawyer ensures that the divorce is registered in Italy.
Housing sharing is different in Italy
The rules for the division of property are different in Denmark and in Italy. In connection with divorce, the lawyer will also advise on the division of property. It is important to emphasize that correct guidance can only be obtained if the lawyer knows both the Danish and the Italian system.
If you ask a Danish lawyer without knowledge of Italian law, you will get an answer that is different from what you would get by asking the same question to an Italian lawyer who does not know Danish law, and then you will be even more confused than before.
The consequences if you do NOT cancel the divorce in Italy can be very serious.
The following scenario may occur:
If a person only gets divorced in Denmark and remarries without the divorce being registered in Italy, this person is technically a “bigamist” and can be punished in Italy with several years in prison.
If a person who is divorced and remarried in Denmark, but never divorced from his first spouse dies in Italy, the first spouse is a compulsory heir according to Italian law and can therefore inherit e.g. real estate or bank accounts that the deceased owned in Italy.