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A Guide to Separation & Child Custody in Italy

A Guide to Separation & Child Custody in Italy

Family law in Italy is undergoing significant changes, recognizing the diverse needs of families going through separation. Courts are now open to solutions that benefit children, with the priority of ensuring children grow up in a stable environment with as little conflict as possible. To help you throughout this journey, Avv. Armando Cecatiello answered some of the most asked questions about separation and child custody arrangements.

A Concerned Parent:My spouse and I, both with deep roots in the US and the UK, are separating while living in Italy. Our lives have been marked by extensive travel due to our professions, but our children, ages 10 and 13, have always found solace in our family home here. It’s not just a house to them; it’s a sanctuary. Nestled close to their schools, friends, and sports facilities, it represents stability and continuity in their otherwise mobile lives. My husband and I are trying to find a collaborative solution for the house in the interest of our kids. As we discuss future arrangements, my paramount concern is the well-being and stability of our children.’

Photo by Kelly Sikkema
Q: Could an Italian court consider prioritizing children’s needs by assigning the family home to them, with parents alternating their time with the children in the family home, taking into account international ties and the significance of the home to the children?

A: The well-being and stability of children during this period of transition is important. The scenario described, where parents alternate living in the family home to provide continuity for their children, is a thoughtful approach, albeit complex in execution. Reflecting on recent legal precedents within Italy, such as the notable decision by the Cuneo court, upheld by the Turin Court of Appeal, we find that the Italian legal system has indeed begun to embrace more innovative custody arrangements. This particular ruling allowed two young children to remain in their family home post-separation, with their parents alternating residence on a weekly basis. This arrangement, designed to preserve the children’s emotional and environmental stability, signifies a remarkable, though rare, judicial willingness to prioritize the needs of children in separation and custody matters.

Q: Are there any concerns related to this ruling?

A: This ruling also highlighted potential concerns, emphasizing that the success of such an arrangement heavily depends on the parents’ ability to maintain a cooperative and harmonious relationship. The courts have expressed reservations about the possibility of increased conflicts and the challenges both parents might face in starting new lives independently under this structured arrangement.

Q: What are the potential challenges of such an arrangement?

A: This ruling leads to a broader reflection on the feasibility and implications of “bird’s nest” custody for separated families. While it offers a model that minimizes disruption in children’s lives, it requires a high level of mutual respect, communication, and flexibility from both parents. The concern isn’t just about logistical arrangements but also about ensuring that this model doesn’t inadvertently heighten tensions or limit the parents’ personal growth and happiness post-separation.

Q: What should parents consider before pursuing this path?

A: For families considering this path, it’s essential to weigh the benefits of stability and continuity for children against the potential for increased parental conflict and the practical challenges of maintaining separate living arrangements outside the family home. Each family’s dynamics are unique, and what works for one may not be suitable for another.

The evolving landscape of family law in Italy shows a growing recognition of the diverse needs of separating families, and the judiciary’s openness to solutions that genuinely serve the best interests of children. As we navigate these complex waters, the paramount consideration remains the well-being and development of children, ensuring they grow up in environments filled with love, stability, and minimal conflict.

Questions About Family Law in Italy

Do you have a question for Attorney Cecatiello concerning family law, adoption, children’s rights and protection, property law, power of attorney and divorce law in Italy? Use the contact from below.


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    Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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