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Italian man granted annulment because wife mentioned open marriage

Italy’s highest court of appeal grants an annulment to a man who complained his wife had theorised about sleeping around.

Image: Lel4nd via Flickr

ITALY’S HIGHEST court of appeal has granted a man an annulment from his wedding – and had ruled out the prospect of having him pay alimony to his former wife – because she had one mentioned the prospect of sleeping with other men.

The Guardian reports that the Cassation court, in a ruling that sets new precedent for the grounds on which a marriage can be annulled, had heard that the wife had “theorised” about whether a marriage meant she had to be monogamous – before the couple had tied the knot.

The woman had not, in spite of her vocal statement, been unfaithful to the man.

Because of her thoughts – and despite his having willingly entered into the marriage – the man had been granted an Church annulment on Monday. Fearing the loss of alimony, the women then appealed to the civil courts – which, surprisingly, upheld the ecclesiastical court’s decision.

“We fully support the lower court’s findings, even though there was no evidence of the woman frequenting other men,” the court said.

The fact that she had spoken about a desire to enter into an open marriage, the court ruled, was tantamount to committing adultery – regardless of whether it was carried through or not. The woman had thus not entered into a marriage, considered to demand a monogamous relationship, validly.

The verdict has been met with surprise by the country’s matrimonial lawyers, who said the result was bizarre and “very perplexing that the court should rule on what is a virtual betrayal when real betrayals frequently go unpunished.

“Virtual betrayal still made it through and was then upheld in a civil court, showing that we appear to be in the hands of judges with some very strange views.”

Italy last year granted about 6,000 church annulments – out of the worldwide total of 40,000. Such annulments had peaked at 8,000 two years ago, with many couples opting to seek a church annulment (thereby being allowed to remarry in a Church, which is forbidden for those who have had a civil divorce) rather than a divorce, which Italian courts take longer to issue.

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Gavan Reilly

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