New divorce ruling scraps automatic maintenance payments

Vittorio Grilli and Lisa Lowenstein

 ROME-- The Court of Appeal has announced laws governing the assignment of alimony will be rewritten, changing divorce proceedings across the peninsula.

 The supreme judges have confirmed that self-sufficient women will no longer have the same rights to alimony, as the clause obligating the spouse’s standard of living to be maintained after the divorce has been scrapped.

 “A marriage cannot be understood as a ‘set-up for life’”, wrote the supreme judges, “getting married is an act of liberty and responsibility,” and with this proclamation maintenance payments will be calculated on criteria concerning the spouse’s self-sufficiency.

 The decision was brought about by cases like that of Lisa Lowenstein and Vittorio Grilli, the entrepreneur and ex-minister who had a particularly messy split in 2013.

 Both husband and wife were relatively wealthy. During the divorce proceedings Grilli gave 2 million euros to his soon to be ex-wife as a settlement. She then appealed to the court in Milan, asking for maintenance payments in addition to the lump sum, which the court denied.

 The verdict number 11504 states that efforts to conserve the ex-spouse’s living standard will no longer be seen as juridically relevant. This means that henceforth courts will assess the all alimony claims based on the capability to work, and the living situation of the one requesting it, and “if they are found to be economically independent or capable of being so, they won’t be awarded this right.”

The ruling is expected to change how family law is interpreted and may herald an end to massive divorce settlements in Italy such as the 1.4 million euro (1.2 million pounds) a month maintenance cheque that media magnate Silvio Berlusconi's second wife Veronica Lario obtained when they split up in 2009 over the then prime minister's penchant for teenage girls.