Divorce has only recently been introduced into Italian law. Law n. 898 on the ‘regulation of cases of dissolution of marriage’ was, in fact, approved by Parliament in December 1970, and so Italy constitutes a rather atypical case vis-à-vis all the other European countries where divorce was introduced or re-introduced between the mid 1800’s and the beginning of the present century. This lagging behind of Italian law has to be explained in terms of the specific political, economic and religious events that characterized the formation of Italian society within the broader framework of modern European history. The law is recent in Italy, but the debate about it is not, and nor are attempts to introduce it into the legal code. The principle of the binding nature of marriage began to be questioned as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the Napoleonic Code was enforced in the Italian republics. The debate stagnated during the Bourbon Restoration, but later spread again, and the first parliamentary initiatives appeared as the politically independent and territorially unified Italian state began to shape its own legal code. A divorce bill was introduced in 1878, a few years after Rome became the capital of the new kingdom following the crumbling of the Papal regime.


Italian Society Legal Code Civil Marriage Italian Citizen Legal Separation 
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© the Netherlands Interuniversity Demographic Institute (N.I.D.I.) 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni B. Sgritta
  • Paolo Tufari

There are no affiliations available

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