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Marriage and Divorce

Italy - Marriage and Divorce


Marriage

Getting married in Italy is can be quite a complicated procedure for foreign nationals, especially if they are not aware of all the legalities. The minimum age for marriage is 16 for both girls and boys, though a court consent is required if either of the parties is below 18 years of age. Expats living in Italy should get in touch with their local consulates for precise information about the required procedures and paperwork so that their civil partnership or marriage is legally accepted in their home countries too. For more information, log on to:

http://italy.usembassy.gov/acs/marriage/general-marriage.html (for American expats)
http://www.italy.embassy.gov.au/rome/Marriage.html (For Australian expats)
http://www.gov.uk/marriage-abroad/y (for British expats)
http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/italy-italie/consular_services_consulaires/marriage-mariage.aspx?lang=eng (for Canadian expats)

The Italian authorities officially recognize both civil & religious marriages. However, it is highly recommended that non-Italians, including expats living in the country, have a civil wedding before they go through the religious ceremony. For this, they have to appear at the town registrar at least 4 days prior to the ceremony date to insure that they have adequate time for all the documents to be authenticated and that the required paperwork is in order.

The paperwork required for non-Italians to get married in Italy may vary a bit, depending upon the person’s country of origin. The 2 primary documents that most expats in this country need to apply for are:

The Certificate of No Impediment (Nulla Osta) which states that there is no legal impediment to the marriage according to the laws of the home country and state. This document costs around €41 (US$ 50) and is valid for 6 months from the date of issue. It is issued by the expat’s Country/ Consulate and has to be legalized by the Legalization Office (Ufficio Legalizzioni) at the Italian Government Office (Prefeturra). For this, applicants need to purchase a revenue stamp (marca da bollo), which costs about €15 (US $ 18) from a tobacconist (tabbachi). A detailed list of Government offices in all regions can be accessed on http://www.interno.gov.it/mininterno/export/sites/default/it/sezioni/ministero/prefetture/scheda_20831.html

A Written Declaration (Atto Notorio) stating that there is no obstacle to the marriage according to the laws of the home country and state. Applicants need to contact the Notary Services (Ufficio Atti Notori) at a court (tribunal ordinario) that has jurisdiction in the intended city of the ceremony. This declaration has to be signed by two (Italian-speaking) witnesses in front of a court official in the city where the wedding is going to take place. Two revenue stamps costing €16 each and one costing €11 are required for the Atto Notario. It usually takes at least 10 days for the declaration to be ready. Many Italian courts have a long waiting list and expats therefore procure it from the Italian embassy in their home countries.

Once these documents are acquired, they need get an Apostille Stamp from the Secretary of the expat’s Home State. The papers also have to be translated to Italian by a certified translator. Other documents that are generally asked for include:

A valid passport
A visa or residency proof
A Birth certificate (which is less than 6 months old)
Evidence of termination of previous marriages (in case this isn’t the first marriage)
Written consent from parents or guardians (in case of minors)

Expats should first take the No Impediment Certificate and the Written Declaration to the Marriage Office (Ufficio Matrimoni) located in the city where they plan to get married. They are given an appointment for the Declaration of Intent to Marry (Promessa di Matrimonio) and another appointment for the actual wedding ceremony. In some cases, both the appointments fall on the same day. The Declaration of Intent to Marry is followed by the civil ceremony.

Expats who are getting married to Italian citizens/ residents need to have the Wedding Banns posted at their town hall on 2 consecutive Sundays. They can only get married 4 days after the second Sunday.

Civil ceremonies in Italy are performed by an official, like a Mayor or Delegate, at the Marriage Office. Family and friends are free to attend the wedding. Two witnesses (who are not family and are above 18 years of age) need to be present for the entire ceremony. If any of the parties getting married doesn’t speak Italian, the authorities will get an interpreter involved. The Marriage Certificate (Certificado di Matrimonio) is given immediately after the ceremony and the names are entered in the Marriage register (Registro di Matrimonio). It is important to have the Italian Authorities affix an Apostille to the certificate, so that it becomes valid in other countries too.

Roman Catholic weddings do not require a civil ceremony because Catholic priests have the right to register the marriage with the registrar. In this case, all the preparations are made by the church. In addition to all the documents required for a civil wedding, expats have to show their baptism and confirmation certificates for a Catholic wedding. Both the partners have to be confirmed as well as baptized and need to attend a pre-marital course held by the church.

Religious wedding ceremonies for all other faiths and churches in Italy must be preceded by a civil ceremony. The marriage certificate needs to be presented beforehand.

Same-sex unions haven’t been legalized in Italy as yet. However, a few local municipals have passed laws that permit same-sex partners to register for civil unions. While these registers may have a symbolic value, they aren’t legally binding.

Couples who plan on entering a pre-nuptial agreement should get one made with the Notary before the ceremony. The agreement has to be submitted to the Marriage Office.

Divorce

Divorce was introduced in Italy for the first time in 1970. Only those couples who got married in Italy or where one partner is an Italian resident can file for a divorce in this country.

The Italian law states that a couple has to have been legally separated for 3 years before filing a divorce petition in the court. This means that getting a divorce in Italy takes at least 3 years, even for an expat. If both the parties do not consent to the divorce it could take much longer and is likely to cost thousands of Euros.

In case a couple has children, the mother usually gets custody and the father has the right to meet them. Children above the age of 10 are sometimes allowed to decide which parent they would choose to live with.


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