Maintenance And Divorce Allowances

Maintenance And Divorce Allowances in Italy

How does financial support work in Italian separations and divorces?

“All are equal before the law
… except when it comes to divorce! In Italy, when a marriage ends, it is common to assume that the spouse with the highest income should pay maintenance and divorce allowances.

In simple terms, alimony or spousal support is meant to equalise the playing field when the two members of a divorcing couple have significantly different incomes.

If you are part of an international marriage or you are married to an Italian national and you are divorcing in Italy, you may have an expectation of receiving financial support. However, between 2017 and 2018, two important judgments by the Italian Supreme Court changed the rules on divorce allowances. These changes mean that it is no longer so easy to obtain alimony.


Maintenance and divorce allowances in Italy

It is important to distinguish between maintenance and divorce allowances in Italy.

Regarding maintenance. This is an allowance provided to the spouse with the lower income from the moment the spouses separate until they obtain a divorce.

The divorce allowance, on the other hand, replaces the maintenance allowance starting from the divorce ruling. It regulates property relations between former spouses for the future.

How does the maintenance allowance work?

A maintenance allowance guarantees the same standard of living for the spouse with the lowest income that s/he had when s/he was still married. The “wealthier spouse” owes a part of his/her income to the other spouse. This aims to level out economic differences between the two spouses.

The judge therefore assesses the two salaries and ensures that husband and wife can afford the same standard of living … theoretically! In reality, however, there is a series of circumstances that increase or decrease the amount of the allowance. For example, the length of the marriage or the age of the beneficiary, …

Be careful though! Not everyone is entitled to a maintenance allowance. Reasons that may trigger non-provision of a maintenance allowance include being found guilty of:

– Failure of the marriage by neglecting one of the typical duties of spouses.

– Betrayal.

– Leaving home with the intention of never returning.

– Physical abuse of the wealthier spouse.

– Neglecting the family.

However, not being in love anymore is not a reason to lose the right to a maintenance allowance. You can’t rule the heart either at the beginning or at the end of a relationship!

divorce allowance

How does the divorce allowance work?

The rules change when the judge replaces the maintenance allowance with the divorce allowance.

The purpose of a divorce allowance is not to guarantee the former spouse the same standard of living as during the marriage. As the Supreme Court specified, “alimony should not be treated as an annuity. The purpose of a divorce allowance is purely to guarantee self-sufficiency, which is essential for living decorously.”

This means that unlike what occurs with the maintenance allowance, the greater wealth of one of the spouses does not increase the divorce allowance. In essence, this means that a divorce allowance can be lower than the maintenance allowance.

What do maintenance and divorce allowances have in common?

A divorce allowance is not due to someone who has violated the rules on marriage, fidelity, cohabitation, etc.

Who can get a divorce allowance?

While a maintenance allowance is due because there is a difference in income, it is less easy to understand entitlement to a divorce allowance.

The fundamental requirement is to prove that the party who wishes to obtain it, deserves it. In particular, according to the Supreme Court, the spouse has the right to a divorce allowance if s/he is:

– Too young to find a job. For example, someone who gets married while completing a degree course.

– Too old to find a job.

– Seriously ill, disabled or unable to earn;

– Unable to work because s/he gave up his/her career to look after the family, home and children, thus allowing the other spouse to concentrate on work and increase their wealth.

An example can help us to better understand who is likely to get a divorce allowance in Italy. A housewife who has never worked because of a joint lifestyle choice between the two spouses will find it more difficult to access to the world of work. On the other hand, a woman who, despite taking care of the house and children, continued to work, perhaps settling for a part-time job, will find it easier. Whereas the former is likely to receive a divorce allowance, the latter is not.

Who is not entitled to a divorce allowance?

A spouse cannot obtain a divorce allowance if:

– She/he is young, with professional training and work experience that allow him / her to find a job even if currently unemployed;

– Did not work of his/her own will. In other words this was not due to a shared lifestyle choice agreed with the other spouse;

– After the separation, does not provide proof that s/he has looked for a job to support him/herself. Proof such as sending a CV, participating in public competitions, registering on job placement lists, …


At De Tullio Law Firm, we often receive questions about Italian divorce law. Many people nowadays are part of a cross-cultural relationship and, for the most part it is an enriching and beautiful experience. However, it can also be difficult to manage if the relationship flounders.

When it comes to separation and divorce, it is wise to speak to experts, both for emotional and legal support. We recognise that so many issues need consideration and decisions need to be made at what is a very stressful time. If you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.

For more information, you may like to read our Guide to Italian Family Law


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