A historic decision of the Corte di Cassazione in May 2017 may be one of the most discussed developments in Italian divorce law for years to come.
Although the decision was made by Section I of the Supreme Court (not a joint “sezioni uniti” pronouncement considered to have the most power to bind future courts) it is widely conisdered to be very influential.
The court decided that in determining the right to and amount of maintenance for the weaker spouse, the main factor should be the financial independence, or lack of, of that spouse. The court should no longer calculate the future right to maintenance based on the “tenore di vita” or “standard of living” of the couple during the marriage, which up to this year was deemed an important consideration, but is now no longer deemed in line with current norms of society.
Financial independence is defined as the “receipt of income from any source, possession of real estate or investments, the availability of accommodation and the capacity to work”. In the future, it is likely therefore that following this decision, once it has been determined that the weaker party not financially self-sufficient will the court then look at the other factors such as the length of the marriage and the contribution each party has made to the family life and the creation of the family patrimony, in order to determine the amount of maintenance to be awarded.
Cassazione Civile, sez. I, sentenza 10/05/2017 n° 11504