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Recognition and Transcription of Foreign Judgments in Family Matters

27 Nov 2023 - Divorce & Family Law - Min Read 5 min
Recognition and Transcription of Foreign Judgments in Family Matters

In Italy, the recognition and transcription of foreign judgments in family matters (marriage, divorce, filiation, etc.) may occur automatically, in accordance with the law on private international law, under certain requirements.

These include not being contrary to public order and ensuring the essential rights of defense are respected.

Recognition of European Judgments

The European Union Law is based on a principle of mutual trust among legal systems, stipulating those judgments issued in a Member State of the European Union are automatically recognized in other Member States.

The principle also applies to voluntary jurisdiction measures related to guardianship, consensual custody, adoption of adults, etc.

The recognition of European judgments is governed by Regulation (EC) No. 2201/2003 of the Council of the European Union.

Recognition of Non-European Judgments

The recognition of non-European judgments is regulated by Law No. 218 of 1995, which sets out the rules of private international law applicable in the absence of international agreements.

Article 64 of Law No. 218/1995 specifies that foreign judgments are automatically effective in Italy if they meet certain criteria:

  • Jurisdiction of the foreign authority. The foreign authority that issued the judgment must be competent according to Italian law.
  • Form of the judgment. The judgment must be pronounced in a form that is conforming to Italian law.
  • Parties to the judgment. The parties involved in the judgment must have legal capacity according to Italian law.
  • Content of the judgment. The content of the judgment must not contravene Italian public order.
  • Notification.
  • Absence of other judgments in Italy.

The main difference between the two regimes is that the recognition of European judgments is automatic, while the recognition of non-European judgments is subject to a more specific review by the Italian judge.

Transcription of Foreign Judgments

Foreign judgments relating to family matters that require recognition in the Italian legal system, because they concern Italian citizens, or because they concern foreign citizens residing in Italy, are in most cases marriages (see “Transcription of foreign marriage in Italy“), divorce judgments, and adoptions.

In order for recognition to take place in any official capacity, the acts must be exhibited in the original, legalized, and translated.

Transcription of Divorce Judgments

Divorce judgments (or annulment of marriage) issued abroad, which are to be made effective in Italy, must be transcribed in the registers of the competent Civil Registry Office.

The methods of requesting transcription may vary depending on the municipality of residence or AIRE registration of the former spouses.

For divorce judgments issued, the following documents must normally be presented:

  • Transcription application;
  • Finalized and legalized divorce judgment from the competent authorities of the issuing country;
  • Sworn translation of the judgment into Italian;
  • Copy of a valid identification document of the applicant.

This documentation must be submitted by the applicant to the municipality where the marriage certificate was transcribed.

The Civil Status Officer transcribes the judgment and annotates it at the margin of the marriage certificate.

The change in civil status from married to single is communicated to the registry office of the municipality of residence and, if applicable, to the birthplace municipality.

Adoption of Minors

The effectiveness of foreign judgments regarding adoptions is governed by Law No. 149 of 2001.

The decision to adopt a foreign minor, issued abroad, cannot be transcribed in Italy by the Civil Status Officer without prior recognition of its effectiveness by the competent Juvenile Court. This ensures compliance with legal requirements.

According to the law, foreign adoption judgments can be recognized in Italy only if:

  • They are in the best interests of the minor.
  • They implement a procedure in line with the fundamental principles of Italian law.

An exception is made for the adoption of a foreign minor carried out abroad by adoptive parents residing abroad. In this case, the Civil Status Officer can transcribe the adoption order.

The same possibility is granted when only one adoptive parent is Italian, in which case the Italian civil status officer is competent to recognize the effectiveness of the foreign measure.

If the civil status officer refuses the transcription, the parent can appeal to the Court of Appeals for recognition.

According to the 1993 Hague Convention, adoption is not limited to married couples, allowing foreign judgments granting full adoption of a minor by an unmarried Italian citizen residing abroad to be recognized in Italy.

Adult adoption

The adoption judgement of a foreign adult can be transcribed, depending on the circumstances, in the municipality where the birth certificate of the foreign national is registered (if born in Italy) or in the municipality where the foreign national is registered (if born abroad).

Any changes to the registry that are the result of the adoption order will be made by the municipality where the adopted person is registered, at the request of the Civil Registry Officer of the municipality that is competent to transcribe the adoption judgment.

If a foreign national adult is adopted abroad by an Italian citizen, and the law of the adopted person’s nationality, like Italian law, requires the submission of the consents of the other interested parties (documents of acceptance of the adoption by the parents, if living, and of the possible spouse of both the adopter and the adopted, and, if present, of the adult children of the adopter), the civil registry officer can only transcribe the adoption act if all the required consents are present.

Consequences of The Recognition of a Foreign Judgment

The recognition of a foreign judgment in family matters has the same effects as if it had been issued by an Italian judge.

Recognition entails the transcription of the judgment in the Italian civil registry records.

The transcription of the foreign judgment has the following consequences:

  • Validation of civil effects. The foreign judgment becomes effective in the Italian legal system.
  • Modification of civil status. The foreign judgment may result in a modification of the civil status of the people involved.
  • Enforceability. The  foreign judgment can be enforced in Italy.

Recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments related to family matters is a complex issue that can have significant consequences for the people involved, It is therefore advisable to consult a lawyer specializing in international law for assistance.

The lawyers of the Immigration and Family Law Departments within Boccadutri International Law Firm will assist you in the transcription of your divorce or adoption judgments, as well as in the transcription of civil status records issued abroad.

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Calogero Boccadutri

Calogero Boccadutri is the Managing Partner of Boccadutri International Law Firm. He has trial experience in Forex, Personal Injury and Administrative litigation.



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