How to protect an inheritance from divorce and/or separation
Separation and divorce are two of the most painful events in life. The decision to legally end a relationship can set off a long and difficult process. The upheavals and emotional challenges can be enormous. On top of this, complex legal and financial issues with short and long term implications need careful management. One aspect to consider when deciding to separate and/or divorce is how to protect an Italian inheritance.
An Italian inheritance might comprise property, movable and immovable assets and savings. Italian inheritance law specifically guarantees inheritance to so-called, “forced heirs”.
A consultation with a lawyer can provide an idea of the likely legal and financial outcomes of your situation. Generally, lawyers will provide a free initial consultation for this purpose. It is therefore worth seeking professional advice at an early stage.
While separation and divorce is a family crisis, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of how to protect an Italian inheritance in order to safeguard and guarantee children’s rights.
Indeed, children have the right to support from both their parents. Italian Constitution and Article 147 of the Italian Civil Code states that children have this right until they reach the age of 18.
In May 2015, Italy introduced the so-called, ‘quickie divorce law’. This cut the amount of time it can take to get a divorce from three years to as little as six months.
There can be important consequences on estate-related issues in divorce and/or separation. These can vary according to the matrimonial financial regime the couple chose at the time of, or during, their marriage.
Couples in Italy may choose between a matrimonial regime of either community of assets, comunione dei beni, or separation of assets, separazione dei beni.
If couples do not have a notarised deed stipulating they have chosen a separazione dei beni regime, Italian law takes the view that the matrimonial regime in place is the default comunione dei beni matrimonial regime.
Expat couples married elsewhere but resident in Italy are regarded as being married according to the comunione dei beni regime. This means a couple jointly owns all assets they acquire during their marriage. In the event of a divorce, each spouse will therefore receive an equal share of these assets.
However, there are exceptions. For instance, if a partner acquired a property prior to the marriage, or received a property after the marriage as a gift or an inheritance, this would not necessarily be split equally in the case of a divorce. It is therefore important to understand your matrimonial regime and check property deeds to see who actually owns what.
Division of Italian assets between spouses in the event of divorce or separation depends on matrimonial regimes. It is important to understand if you own the property in common with your spouse. If you need assistance or would like to discuss your personal situation. please get in touch with us.