Romania Is Italy’s Divorce Capitol

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Bucharest Photo: iStockphoto

According to the New York Times, Romania has become the place for Italians looking to end their marriages. Apparently, the country that gave the world Silvio Berlusconi requires unhappy couples to sit through a three-year legal separation period before divorce proceedings can begin; if the breakup is less than amicable, the process can sometimes take up to ten years. So, what's the solution for those looking for a more efficient way to sever their ties? A destination divorce.

Because E.U. countries are required to recognize divorces granted by any member state, Italian "divorce tourists" are able to bypass their homeland's lengthy wait times by traveling abroad to sign the release papers. Anywhere moves faster than Italy on this issue, but Romania has made itself particularly attractive to would-be Bunga-Bunga-ers by being cheap and taking a casual attitude toward residency requirements. The demand for foreign splits is apparently so large that it's created a niche industry. For $5,000, companies like Divorzio Comodo ("Easy Divorce") will set you up with an all-inclusive Balkan breakup package, including airfare:


“It’s true that we’re seeing offices offering such services opening up,” said Diego Sabatinelli, secretary for the Italian League for Quick Divorce, an association affiliated with the Radical Party, which was instrumental in legalizing divorce in Italy in 1970. “If there is a market, there is a need.”

Mr. Sabatinelli has been lobbying the Italian government to get rid of the required three-year separation, which is meant to act as "a period of forced reflection and possibly reconsideration." As a Milanese divorce lawyer explained, that's just too much contemplation, even for a country full of Catholics: "Delaying the end of a marriage rarely saves it ... She said that she had worked on countless divorces in the past 20 years, and could only think of one case where the couple got back together."

The Times didn't manage to rustle up anyone to tell a nice story about how their jaunt to Bucharest ended up rekindling the magic, but they did find Gian Ettore Gassani, president of the Italian Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, to say that he estimates the number of couples who have crossed the border to be around 8,000.

Divorce Tourists Go Abroad to Quickly Dissolve Their Italian Marriages [NYT]