Italians seems to have a very low divorce rate compared to the rest of the world, particularly the United States, Britain and Sweden. I would be surprised if the divorce rate in Italy is as high as 20% as compared to over 50% in most other industrialized countries.
It is the whole Vatican/Catholic thing, I guess. Plus, it seems to be much more difficult to get a divorce in Italy than in any of the other countries I just mentioned. For one thing, the wait is much longer. Up to 3 years it looks like before you can be adjudicated divorce (that law was supposed to change though, so I don’t know if it has yet or not.) In fact, according to this website http://www.international-divorce.com/d-italy.htm divorce is really a hot issue for the electorate in Italy, always a source of controversy, and has been so for Prime Minister Berlusconi whose party supports a shorter separation period than the compulsory 3 years it has been.
Prime Minister Berlusconi and his wife are bound by Italy’s divorce laws, obviously. Either one of them could have “forum shopped” and gone to another European country, set up residence for about six months, and then file. It would have been easier. But obviously, when you are the president of a country, how can you engage in “divorce tourism” such as I am suggesting? Only Madama Berlusconi could have done that and I guess she loved her villa in Milan too much to do that.
So, what are the grounds for divorce in Italy? Well, according to NY divorce attorney Jeremy Morley’s blog, they are as follows:
Divorce in Italy may be obtained on one of the following grounds: After the court has approved consensual separation; after judicial separation; when one spouse has been sentenced for certain criminal offenses; when one spouse is a foreign citizen and has obtained a divorce or has married again abroad; or when the marriage has not been consummated. If the divorce is based on separation, it may only be obtained after three years of continuous separation beginning on the date the spouses appeared before the court in the proceedings for legal separation.
Whatever the case may be, I am thinking the Berlusconi’s must consent to this divorce or face a great hardship in obtaining the divorce by judicial consent. There is no other choice. Just today I read that Mr. Berlusconi is calling for a public apology from his wife for saying he consorts with minors. He feels she is doing this to wreck his political prospects. Whatever. The bottom line is, if he does not consent, she may have a problem getting the divorce pursuant to Italian law, which cow-tows to the Papacy by and large.
Oh. So will the Pope get a headache from this situation? To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think the Pontiff cares. I mean, respectfully, I am sure he will make a show of caring and being slightly scandalized, after all, this whole thing is going down on his turf. But ultimately? Frankly my dear, I do not think the Pope gives his bed slippers what Mr. and Mrs. Berlusconi do with their marriage. At this point, the Church has pretty much thrown its hands up, anyway after losing their fight to ban divorces since the 1970’s.
But just to be on the safe side, if I were Berlusconi, I would seek a dispensation once the divorce is finalized, just to be safe.
Check out our other Berlusconi posts here: http://www.divorcesaloon.com/index.php?s=berlusconi