As part of the reform of the justice system which came into force this year (Riforma Cartabia), a new procedure for filing for legal separation and divorce in Italy has been introduced.
Up to 2022 a couple would need to have an order from the Italian court for legal separation, before proceeding to a divorce.
If the separation was contested by one of the spouses the court proceedings leading to a separation order could take three years or more. An application for divorce could then only be made, by filing a new petition to the court, after a minimum of 6 months had passed from a consensual separation order or 12 months from a contested separation order.
Italy is one of only a handful of countries to still require these two separate steps.
For applications filed after 30th June 2023, the Cartabia Reform has made it possible for a couple to make one single petition to the Italian court from the outset, for both legal separation and divorce.
This new procedure should reduce the time needed from applying to the court to reaching a final divorce order, although as the rules came into force this year time will only tell. The number of court hearings will certainly be reduced, and most significantly the initial phase (fase presidenziale) is removed and the case will go directly to the consideration of the evidence (fase istruttoria). However, there will still be a waiting period of 6 months or 12 months between the legal separation order and the final divorce order.
In cases of consensual separation and divorce the reform has also confirmed the possibility of hearings on paper only (if the parties expressly consent to this) with pleadings filed telematically by the parties’ lawyer.
There is a more stringent requirement now to attach complete and detailed documentation to the petition, which must set out the entire financial situation and assets of each party in the last three years (situazione reddituale e patrimoniale).
In contested applications, a clear plan of how the parenting will be shared in relation to children must be filed, and in some cases children will be interviewed by the court.
There will be a separate track for applications where violence is alleged by the spouse.
The new procedure is set out in the Italian Code of Civil Procedure (c.p.c.) in updated Article 473 bis 49 – 51.