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Family law in Germany and Italy

We support you in all legal matters relating to family law

We support and advise our clients in all matters relating to family law. Due to the dual training and admission to the bar of our family law expert, we also guarantee first-hand representation and litigation before both Italian and German courts. In-depth knowledge of both legal systems as well as ongoing training through specialized seminars and conferences in Italy and Germany, as well as on an international level, guarantee our clients competent legal advice on a national and international level.

Focus on international family law

Our many years of professional experience in the extrajudicial handling and litigation of German, Italian, German-Italian and other international family law cases allows us to keep a particularly close eye on the continuous development of family law, so that we can react quickly to legislative reforms and changes in Italian, German and international case law. This guarantees our clients a high level of legal advice and representation, namely in the wide range of international matters.

From the first consultation, our clients receive all the necessary information to solve their problem or to understand relevant legal issues, as well as initial impulses for a pragmatic solution that is in line with their individual needs and economic circumstances.

We pay special attention to the general protection of the fundamental rights of the person and the family as well as the "new" LGTBQ+ rights, beyond national borders.

Our family law services in detail

Our law firm offers comprehensive advice on the separation of spouses (or civil partners), the settlement of all issues and problems related to the family crisis, as well as legal representation of our clients in Italy and Germany. In particular, the firm provides its clients with its long experience in litigation, in the application of Regulation (EC) 2201/2003 on international jurisdiction and in the resolution of international lis pendens conflicts when several courts are seised simultaneously, as well as in the application of Regulation (EU) 1259/2010 on the law applicable to divorce and legal separation.

In connection with the separation or divorce proceedings, we assist our clients in an advisory capacity in all matters relating to custody, the right of residence of the joint children and the exercise of the right of access to the other parent, their maintenance, the allocation or division of the matrimonial home, spousal maintenance, supplementary maintenance, the division of assets between the spouses in the context of the equalization of gains or the division of joint assets.

In the case of children born out of wedlock, if the parents do not live together, the center of life and care can be arranged mainly with one parent. In this case, the times and modalities of the child's presence with each parent, the right of access, are determined according to standard models or as extended care up to the so-called "alternating model", which provides for 50% parity of care and is practiced in both the Italian and German legal systems.

Our advisory services on the regulation of parent-child care follow a pragmatic approach, based on many years of experience. We help our clients to find appropriate solutions for their specific case by first promoting an agreement between the parties through out-of-court mediation and, in the absence of an agreement, by initiating court proceedings which include, inter alia, the hearing of the child. In this case, we always make it our business to inform clients in advance about the modalities, the time schedule, the costs of the proceedings and the typical peculiarities of Italian and German law.

International child abduction occurs when a child is unlawfully taken abroad or retained there without the consent of the other parent exercising parental responsibility.

Cases of international child abduction occur frequently, especially in light of the increasing mobility of people and the rise of unregistered cohabitation, or as a result of a family crisis and the return of a parent to his or her country of origin.

The firm has many years of experience in providing international assistance and representation in court (in Germany and Italy) in cases of international child abduction. In this context, we assist our clients in asserting the civil law aspects of the return of the child to his or her original habitual residence and work towards resolving the matter also through mediation. In connection with the application of the relevant Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 and EC Regulation 2201/2003, we have outstanding expertise and many years of experience, in the course of which we have developed close personal contacts at international level with other specialized lawyers and central authorities, which benefit our clients. In fact, this enables us to provide comprehensive qualified advice aimed at obtaining a quick surrender of the minor by identifying the most effective tactics, avoiding unnecessary loss of time and procedural errors in connection with the submission of the respective applications to the internationally competent authorities.

At the time of separation or divorce, a maintenance obligation is usually established in favor of the children or the spouse. In many cases, a spouse or parent returns to their home state or moves abroad after separation. If the obligor moves abroad, his or her traces may be lost or direct contact may be lost and, as a result, maintenance may no longer be paid. The corresponding enforcement order (i.e. the court decision, the court confirmation of the separation or divorce agreement or the notarial deed) is often kept in a drawer or with the lawyer who accompanied the separation - and forgotten there. The beneficiary thus misses out on the possibility of effectively enforcing his or her maintenance claims.

With the help of European judicial cooperation in civil matters and the relevant legal tools of the European regulations, decisions on maintenance obligations or family law settlements can be enforced quickly, efficiently and effectively in another Member State, thus securing the maintenance or settlement payments.

The firm has many years of experience in advising and representing its clients in cross-border matters relating to the enforcement of family law payment orders and in selecting the most effective enforcement measures to secure the claim. If the enforcement order is not automatically recognized in another Member State (e.g. because it was issued before the individual European regulations came into force), it is possible to apply by way of a separate procedure for the enforcement clause to be issued in the State in which enforcement is to be pursued.

Read more about the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Germany.

We advise and represent our clients in cases involving the recognition of a child, the judicial determination of paternity or its challenge, the granting of a family name and in maintenance matters following the determination of parenthood. In international cases, the legal framework must first be defined with regard to both international jurisdiction and the applicable law. In international cases, we also coordinate the cross-border execution of biological DNA assessments and comprehensively inform our clients about the legal consequences resulting from the determination of parenthood as well as about the particularities of the respective legal systems.

The right to maintenance for minor and adult children, separated or divorced spouses is subject to national as well as European and international regulations. National law, in conjunction with the principles developed by established case law, regulates the details of maintenance law for the claimant, the prerequisites of the maintenance claim, the right of action, the method of calculation for the amount of maintenance and for the consideration of all circumstances affecting the amount of maintenance.

We offer legal assistance in assessing the circumstances of the individual case that may justify or exclude a maintenance claim, as well as a concrete individual calculation to determine the amount of maintenance.

Our firm has many years of experience in advising and representing clients in cross-border matters relating to the payment of child benefits in the individual European Member States to employees for dependent children who have their habitual residence in a Member State other than the residence of the entitled parent. In these cases, the European Social Security Law Regulation (EC 883/2004) applies, which establishes priority rules between states and a prohibition of overlapping.

Our advisory services are aimed at families (including those of separated and/or divorced parents) residing in Italy, where one parent meets the requirements for claiming child benefit in Germany for dependent children habitually resident in Italy or other European states.

We also advise our clients on the implications of the introduction of child benefit in Italy (assegno unico figli) in relation to those already in receipt of foreign child benefit and make recommendations as to the best solution in this regard.

In national law, there are different rules on matrimonial property regimes, depending on whether the statutory property regime is involved or a separate property regime chosen by the spouses.

We advise our clients on the division of assets falling under the statutory community of property or on the calculation of gains under the statutory community of property.

"Prevention is better than cure": Should the obligations arising from the marriage be settled before taking the big step of marriage? Should the property and non-property consequences of a separation/divorce be agreed in advance?

Such a recommendation is followed by many married couples today, and premarital agreements are now widespread.

We advise our clients on the content of such agreements and draft tailor-made prenuptial and cohabitation agreements as well as separation agreements, taking into account the nationality of the partners, the applicable law at the habitual residence of the spouses or in the state with which they have a closer connection, maintenance law and the matrimonial property regime in accordance with EU Regulations 2016/1103 and 2016/1104 (for registered partnerships).

We ensure close cooperation with experienced notaries for our clients for the consensual notarization (also bilingual) of prenuptial agreements or agreements made by the spouses to regulate the legal consequences of their separation or divorce (separation or divorce succession agreement).

We offer our clients qualified advice in the area of adoption of minors and adults. This includes national as well as international adoptions, with a special focus on the procedure for the recognition of foreign adoption decisions in the German and Italian legal systems. In the area of international adoption, legal advice which takes into account the respective particularities of national law is indispensable (e.g. there are sometimes considerable differences in the obligations of the relatives and the spouse of the adoptee to provide information and to participate).

In cooperation with notary offices we trust, we ensure the proper formalization of the certified application for the adoption of adults and take over the procedural representation of the parties in the adoption proceedings before the judicial authorities in Italy and in Germany.

We offer our clients efficient services for the procurement of civil status documents so that the civil status and registry office documents required for a marriage (certificate of marriageability) or for the recognition and registration of marriages and civil partnerships concluded abroad can be submitted in a short time.

We also arrange for the registration of divorce decrees and other civil status documents issued abroad that require annotation or registration (registration of international adoptions, decisions on parental responsibility, acknowledgement of paternity, change of first and last name, change of gender).

We reconstruct and resolve complex civil status and personal status constellations for those citizens who, living abroad, have neglected (or were unaware of) the registration of important events such as marriage, divorce, birth of children, etc. in their home country.

We advise our clients and offer them procedural assistance (in Italy and Germany) in proceedings for the management of guardianships and conservatorships, taking into account on a case-by-case basis the respective personal and family situation of the person to be protected. We determine the best solution for our clients for the specific case in an international context: for example, we also support relatives and dependents who do not live in the same country as the person to be cared for and are not able to communicate directly with the competent authorities.

The extensive freedom of movement of persons made possible by European regulations, the further liberal impulses of European and international law, the personal needs of individuals and families, and the prohibition of discrimination have redefined the boundaries of fundamental personal rights and opened up the protection of new LGTBQ+ rights. We support the development and recognition of these "new" rights, taking into account all the current issues related to them, and deepen our knowledge through continuous training on the legal aspects of homosexual parenthood, civil partnerships and cohabitation, protection of personal rights in polyamory, gender reassignment, sexual orientation or other gender-specific identity issues, in order to be able to provide our clients with goal-oriented advice that also takes into account the latest legal developments of these new rights.

In all areas of our family law advice and representation services, we ensure that the problems entrusted to us find an individually tailored, pragmatic and conflict-ending solution with the help of qualified solution strategies. To this end, we draw on many years of experience, matured in a national, European and international context and enhanced by continuous training in both legal systems and a constant exchange of experience with other professionals in this field, which benefits our clients.

Family law peculiarities in Italy

Separation and divorce

Italian law first provides for a procedure for the legal separation of the spouses, and only after a certain period of time can a petition be filed to terminate the civil effects of the marriage (divorce). Both procedures can be carried out amicably, with the mutual consent and concurring will of the spouses, or judicially, if one of the spouses opposes the separation and/or asserts claims and rights that the other spouse does not recognize.

Particular caution is advised to spouses who intend to make use of the simplified lawyer-assisted separation or divorce agreements under Italian law (convenzione di negoziazione assistita) if one of the spouses moves or intends to move abroad. This can lead to disadvantages outside Italy with regard to the recognition of the separation/divorce.

Maintenance (child maintenance and spousal maintenance)

Italian law does not have a maintenance table with pre-determined monthly payment amounts. For the determination of the ordinary and extraordinary costs of the child (in the sense of additional needs and special needs), the amount of child maintenance is based on the local district maintenance guidelines.

In the event of separation of the spouses, separation maintenance may be provided for or determined. The maintenance must enable the entitled spouse to have the same standard of living as he or she had while living together.

A spouse is only entitled to post-marital maintenance if he or she does not have the appropriate means or cannot earn them himself or herself for objective reasons. Whether there is an entitlement to divorce maintenance, and if so, the amount, is determined by applying criteria laid down by law. The spouses may also agree that post-marital maintenance is settled by a one-off settlement.

All maintenance amounts must be adjusted annually to the ISTAT index (index figures of the Italian Central Institute for Statistics).

No pension rights adjustment

In the context of divorce proceedings before the German authorities, the pension rights acquired by the spouses during the marriage can be equalized.

Italian law does not recognize this legal institution. However, the implementation of pension equalization can also be applied for after the divorce in isolated proceedings if one of the spouses has paid pension contributions to a German institution.

Choice of matrimonial property regime

Whereas in Germany the choice of matrimonial property regime can mainly be made privately autonomously through a marriage contract, in Italy the choice of matrimonial property regime is limited to the models provided for by law. It can be declared at the time of marriage and is recorded in the marriage certificate.

Nullity of marriage contracts and separation agreements

In the Italian legal system, prenuptial agreements and those agreed during separation with a view to divorce are considered void, so in individual cases it may be advisable to consider alternative solutions, such as a choice of law in favor of another jurisdiction with which the spouses have a close connection.

Italian citizens who have their habitual residence in Germany can overcome the invalidity obstacle enshrined in Italian law by making a choice of law in favor of German law.

Parentage law and naming

Italian law on parentage provides that parents may give their child a double surname.

In Italian proceedings to establish or contest paternity, very short time limits for the defense and the statute of limitations must be observed.

It should also be noted that the right to a name is governed exclusively by the national law of the person concerned, as there are (as yet) no international rules in this area of law.

Automatic inclusion of relatives in guardianship proceedings

Unlike in Germany, where a relative must make a formal application for inclusion in the simplified procedure for the appointment or removal of a guardian, Italian law automatically provides for the necessary inclusion of relatives as parties to the proceedings. We will be happy to advise you on how to avoid unnecessary formal errors that can considerably prolong the proceedings.

Claims for damages for breach of marital and parental obligations

Damages for so-called intra-familial damage (danno endofamiliare), which is recognized in Italian law as a consequence of neglect of marital or parental duties and has been comprehensively defined and concretized by Italian jurisprudence, are now widely used in Italy in cases of family crises. Sentencing for this type of damage also has a cross-border impact due to the recognition and enforcement of Italian judgments under European regulations.

Our team of specialized lawyers provides our clients with comprehensive legal advice and litigation representation in proceedings for the judicial determination of the breach of marital and parental obligations and the corresponding civil liability for the damages suffered within the family, with the aim of obtaining a judgment for the compensation of the non-material damage or the defence of such a claim.

Read more about the enforcement and defence of claims for damages.

Family law peculiarities in Germany compared to Italy?

You are Italian and you are interested in the particularities of family law in Germany? You can find information about this on the Italian version of this page.

Frequently asked questions from our clients

An immediate and clear answer to this question is not possible without first examining the specific individual case. The special features of family law in both legal systems can offer advantages over the other, but to do so, the individual issues that need to be settled in the separation or divorce must first be identified and assessed.

The decision to move the minor child's habitual residence to another state must be agreed with the other parent exercising parental responsibility. If both parents do not agree, an application for transfer of the right of residence must be filed with the competent court.

Without knowledge of the underlying facts and a thorough legal examination, it is not possible to give a clear answer to this question. The concrete circumstances of the case and the applicable law must be taken into account, as well as the question of whether a court order regulating maintenance has already been issued. Especially with regard to the maintenance claim for children of full age, German and Italian law are very different.

Consultation?

Let us talk about your specific concerns.