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Spousal Support: Premarital Cohabitation Now Counts

10 Apr 2024 - Divorce & Family Law - Min Read 2 min
Spousal Support: Premarital Cohabitation Now Counts

The Joint Sections of the Supreme Court established with judgment no. 35385 of December 18, 2023, that the period of premarital cohabitation could be considered in determining and quantifying spousal support.

This applies to unique cases where the marriage is linked to a premarital cohabitation characterized by stability and continuity, and a common life plan with mutual economic contributions.

Debate on Spousal Support and Cohabitation

The debate on spousal support, which concerns both its grant and its possible quantification, has been the subject of numerous analyses and judgments, reflecting the need to constantly update the interpretation of laws in light of changing times.

Spousal support has transformed from a guaranteed compensation for the financially disadvantaged partner, regardless of their wealth, into a form of assistance that is not necessarily entitled if the individual seeking it can work or support themselves. It now often serves to balance the economic scales, particularly when one partner has financially prospered at the expense of the other’s sacrifices.

The gender of the recipient does not change the discussion.

 The Supreme Court notes that cohabitation outside of marriage (more uxorio) “has become a deeply rooted cultural phenomenon in our society” and cannot be ignored when a marriage ends, because in that period (especially if we talk about years rather than months) it is inevitable to make work and life choices that will later influence married life.

How the 35385/2023 Judgment Came About the Supreme Court?

Acknowledging the importance of each spouse’s contribution to family life and the formation of common assets even during premarital cohabitation, necessitates a broader context in evaluating the right to spousal support. This can lead to unexpected conclusions, as in the case of the couple at the center of judgment no. 35385 of 2023.

Their relationship went through seven years of cohabitation and seven years of marriage.

During cohabitation, they had a child, and the wife chose to stop working, which the Court of Appeal overlooked, stating that personal sacrifices are tied to marriage, not cohabitation.

Discriminating Factors

For premarital cohabitation to be considered relevant in assessing spousal support, key factors include:

  • Duration of cohabitation; Longer periods carry more weight.
  • Intensity of cohabitation; considering the nature of the relationship, shared living spaces, and life plans.
  • Contributions to family life; economically and in terms of household and childcare.
  • Shared life choices: like foregoing career advancement or job opportunities to focus on family life.

The Supreme Court had previously addressed the recognition of career sacrifices or the mutual decision to forego work for family dedication.

The Family and Divorce Law Department’s team of lawyers is available to assess individual cases and provide the best strategy for protecting your rights. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on the Supreme Court’s judgment or spousal support in general.

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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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