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Child Custody in Italy

Child Custody in Italy

The custodial duties in Italy are allocated and divided by the court in the most suitable manner. Articles of the Civil Code regulate matters of child custody. After separation or divorce, the minor has the right to maintain a continuous relationship with each parent and to receive schooling, education, care etc. from both parents. In these delicate matters, it is advisable that you seek help from an experienced lawyer in Italy.

Types of child custody in Italy

The Italian law provides three types of child custody in this country. One refers to exclusive custody, which grants the custody to one of the parents and who has the right to decide on every matter related to the child’s daily life and thus, to exercise full parental responsibilities (unless a judge gives other provisions); the non-custodial parent has limited responsibilities in this case. 

The second type of custody refers to joint custody, which means that both parents are entitled to the custody, to parental responsibilities, even though the child may live with one of the parents; theoretically, type of custody should provide the most advantageous option for a child. 

The third type of custody refers to the alternating custody, which implies that each parent has the right to exercise exclusively his/her parental responsibilities for the period of custody granted to him/her; each of them has the custody of the minor for predetermined periods. Our lawyers in Italy can provide you with further details on the implications of child custody, on the differences between each type and other legal family matters.

Courts in charge with Italian child custody

The Italian law states that the court handling child custody and parental responsibility is to be decided by the status of the two parties: if the parents are married or unmarried. When dealing with married parents, the ordinary court is the competent authority (also handling procedures of separation, divorce etc.). 

For unmarried parents though, the competent authority is the family proceedings court. You can seek counselling from our Italian law firm in family issues or other legal matters and we can offer you guidance and advice; those interested in being represented in front of the Italian courts on custody matters can request more information on the procedure from our team of lawyers in Italy

What should one know on the Italian custody laws? 

Spouses divorcing and involved in a custody case must know that the Italian legislation stipulates that both parents will still have parental responsibility towards their children even in the event in which their marriage will be terminated through a divorce. This is regulated under the Law 219/2012 and the Legislative Decree 145/2013, which can be detailed by our team of Italian lawyers

It is also necessary to know that the Italian regulations on custody no longer make a distinction between custody of children who were born during a marriage and those who were born outside a relationship that is not recognized under the Italian legislation (children born out of wedlock). Thus, both parents are entitled to be a part of their child’s life and provide for the wellbeing of the respective child. 

Although Italy provides three options regarding the custody of a child, in practice, most of the cases are terminated with providing a shared custody; the custody granted to only one parent is very rare and it generally applies in specific types of cases. This can happen as long as the court decides that the sole custody is the most suitable option for the child, but even is such cases, the other parent will still retain specific rights. 

Key factors of child custody in Italy

In order to determine the type of child custody that the Italian court will select, a set of factors have to be established during the procedure and such information refer to both the parents and the children. The key factors that courts consider when awarding child custody to parents are as follows:

  • • the minor’s mental and physical health, age, sex and the parents’ physical and mental health;
  • • the parents’ lifestyle and whether there is a history of child abuse;
  • • the minor’s preference in living with a certain parent (this is available only if he/she’s above the age of 12);
  • • the parents’ possibility of offering all the means for supporting a child;
  • • the emotional connection between the parent and the children.

What happens after the custody is granted in Italy? 

The rights and obligations the parents have towards their child once the custody decision was established are determined based on the type of custody that was granted to the parents. However, in most of the cases, the shared custody is the norm in Italy, but even if this means that both of the parents will have equal rights, some aspects have to be clearly defined. Some of the most important aspects that have to be addressed once the Italian court granted the custody are presented below: 

  • • the court will establish the place where the permanent residency of the child will be; 
  • • even though both parents have equal rights, the court will establish a single residence, as this is necessary for the proper development of the child;
  • • at the same time, the court will establish the schedule when the child can stay with the other parent;
  • • provided that the former spouses have a good relation, the court will not provide a clear understanding of this schedule and will let the parents decide on this aspect;
  • • if the parties have a conflictual relation, the court will state in its decision a very clear schedule, that must be followed accordingly;
  • • it is necessary to know that the arrangements done in court have a validity up until the moment when the child reaches the age of 18 years old. 

What are the characteristics of the Italian family?

Although in the past the Italian family used to be formed by many members, with numerous children, just as it was the case in other European countries, the last decades have brought dramatic changes to the family structure in Italy. Families now tend to be much smaller and the average structure is basically formed by the two spouses and one or two children. 

The National Statistics Institute of Italy gathered data which showed that that the Southern region of the country is characterized by families with more children, while the Northern region is formed by families with a simpler structure. The information on the Italian family show the following:

  • • there were approximately 4,2 million families with only one child (at the level of 2017);
  • • in 2017, there were 3,7 million families with two children in Italy;
  • • at the level of the same year, only 937,000 families in Italy had three or more children;
  • • in 2017, families with children represented approximately 32.6% of the entire Italian society;
  • • it is also necessary to know that the average age at which an Italian woman has her first child has increased at 30.8 years old;
  • • this is above the average rate available for other European countries, where the first child is born at ages between 26 to 30 years old. 

Feel free to contact our law firm in Italy for more information and/or assistance in child custody issues in ItalyOur lawyers in Italy can represent locals or foreigners in a wide range of civil law matters, such as divorce or the division of assets between spouses during a divorce; our Italian attorneys can inform parties on the rights and the obligations they can have in such cases.