: Japanese Fairy Tales

MARRIAGE.--Marriage in Italy is governed in practically all its aspects

and connections by the regulations contained in the chapter on marriage in

the Italian Civil Code (Il Codice Civile del regno d'Italia), which went

into effect in 1866. These regulations are for the most part the same as

those of the French Code, upon which the Italian Code was directly based,

the modifications in the Italian Code being mainly in the direction

greater specificness and greater stringency.

As in France, civil marriage is the only form of marriage recognized by

the State.

IMPEDIMENTS.--1. Age. A man may not contract marriage before completing

his eighteenth year or a woman before completing her fifteenth. The King

may, however, grant a dispensation permitting a man to marry after

attaining the age of fourteen and a woman after attaining the age of


2. Existing previous marriage. As in France.

3. Period of delay. A woman cannot contract a new marriage until ten

months after the dissolution or annulment of a former marriage, unless the

marriage was annulled on the ground of impotence. But this prohibition

ceases from the day the woman has given birth to a child.

4. Consanguinity and affinity. As in France. The King has a right of

dispensation similar to that possessed by the President in France.

5. Relationship by adoption. As in France.

6. Mental incapacity. Marriage may not be contracted by one who has been

legally adjudged of unsound mind. If an action on this ground is pending

against either party to a contemplated marriage the marriage must be

suspended until final judgment is given.

7. Homicide. A person who has been legally convicted as a principal or

accomplice in a voluntary homicide committed or attempted upon any person

may not be married to the latter's consort. As in the case of the

preceding impediment, a contemplated marriage must be suspended if an

action on this ground is pending against either party.

8. Consent of parents. The age under which the consent of parents or next

of kin is required is 25 for males and 21 for females. An adopted child

requires the consent of both its natural and adopted parents. If the

consent is refused the Italian Code provides for an appeal to the court.

Foreigners desiring to be married in Italy must present a certificate from

the competent authority of their own country that they satisfy the

requirements of the laws of that country. Foreigners ordinarily residing

in Italy must also satisfy the requirements of the Italian law.

PRELIMINARIES.--The preliminary formalities to marriage are essentially

the same in both the French and the Italian Codes.

LEGAL OPPOSITION.--Legal opposition to the marriage may be made by the

parents or, in want of them, by the grandparents of either party, if they

are cognizant of the existence of any legal impediment, even if the

parties are of age. In default of ascendants, opposition can also be made

by a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, or cousin german, as well as by the

guardian or curator duly authorized by the family council, on the ground

of lack of the required consent or the infirmity of mind of one of the

parties to the marriage. Anyone may oppose the remarriage of his former


The public prosecutor is required to oppose the marriage officially when

he is cognizant of any impediment, and to facilitate his accomplishment of

this duty the registrar is bound to inform him of any impediment that

appears to exist.

The effect of a legal opposition is to suspend the celebration of the

marriage until the case has been determined in court. If the opposition

proves to be without legal ground the one filing it, unless one of the

ascendants or the public prosecutor, may be held responsible for any

damage occasioned by him.

CELEBRATION.--Marriage must be celebrated publicly in the communal house

and before the registrar of the commune where one of the parties has his

or her domicile. Two witnesses are required.

RECORD OF MARRIAGE.--The registrar must inscribe a record of the marriage

in the civil register giving all the necessary details and must deliver an

authenticated abstract of the record to the parties, who without this

cannot legally claim to be married or to enjoy any of the legal

consequences of marriage.

ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN.--Such children are legitimatized by the subsequent

marriage of their parents, although in order to acquire the legal rights

of legitimate children they must be formally recognized by their parents.

These legal rights are acquired at the time of marriage only if the

illegitimate children are legally recognized by their parents in the

marriage record or have been legally recognized at some time prior to the

marriage; otherwise they date only from the day when such recognition is

given subsequent to the marriage. Children of adulterous connections and

of persons between whom exists the impediment of relationship by blood or

marriage in the direct line, or of relationship by blood in the collateral

line up to the second degree, cannot be legitimatized.

FOREIGN MARRIAGES.--In order that marriage may be valid in Italy an

Italian citizen entering into a marriage in a foreign country must be free

to marry under the Italian law and must make publication in the commune in

Italy of which he is a resident, or if he is no longer a resident of

Italy, in the one in which he last resided. The marriage is valid if

celebrated according to the form prescribed by the laws of the country in

which it takes place. Within three months after his return to Italy he

must have the marriage recorded in the civil register of the commune where

he permanently resides.

ANNULMENT.--Marriage may be annulled if contracted in contravention of the

impediments as to age, existing previous marriage, relationship or

homicide. It may also be declared null if it was celebrated before an

incompetent official or without the necessary witnesses; in the former

case, however, the action cannot be instituted more than a year after the

date of celebration. Actions on the foregoing grounds may be brought by

the parties themselves, by the nearest ascendants, by the public

prosecutor or by any one who has a legitimate or actual interest in the


The validity of a marriage may also be attacked by the party whose consent

thereto was not free or who was under error as to the person married; but

actions on these grounds are no longer admissible when cohabitation has

lasted for a month after the removal of the constraint or the discovery of

the error. Impotence, when anterior to marriage, may be put forward as a

ground for annulment by either party. Marriage performed without the

required legal consent may be attacked by the person whose consent was

necessary or by the party to whom it was necessary; but in the former case

it cannot be attacked later than six months after marriage, and in the

latter, six months after the party in question has attained his majority.

Moreover, in cases where only one of the parties has attained the required

age it cannot be attacked when the wife, although not yet of age, has

become pregnant. The marriage of one who has been legally adjudged of

unsound mind can be attacked either by the party himself, his guardian,

the family council, or the public prosecutor, if the judgment had already

been passed when the marriage was celebrated, or if the infirmity for

which the judgment was pronounced was existent at the time of marriage.

Marriage cannot, however, be attacked on this ground if cohabitation has

endured for three months after the party has been legally adjudged to be

once more of sound mind.

The public prosecutor is obliged to intervene in all matrimonial causes,

even if they were not instituted by him.

SEPARATION.--There is no divorce in Italy, and marriage is only dissolved

by the death of one of the parties. Personal separation is, however,

permitted on the following grounds:

1. Adultery of the wife, or of the husband if he maintains a concubine in

his house or openly in another place or when such circumstances concur

that the act constitutes a grave indignity (ingiuria grave) to the wife.

The latter provision is intended to apply particularly to cases where the

wife has discovered the husband in flagrante delicto.

2. Voluntary abandonment.

3. Violence endangering the life or health, cruelty, threats, or grave

mental indignities.

4. Sentence to punishment for crime, except when the conviction was prior

to the marriage and the other party was cognizant of it.

5. The wife can ask for a separation when the husband, without any just

reason, does not set up an abode, or, having the means, refuses to set one

up in a manner suited to his condition.

6. Mutual agreement. Separation on this ground is not valid unless

ratified by the court after an attempt at reconciliation has been made.

LIMITATIONS TO RIGHT OF ACTION.--The right to obtain a separation is

extinguished by condonation, express or tacit.

PROCEDURE.--Actions for separations must be brought before the court under

whose jurisdiction the defendant is resident or domiciled. Service is

ordinarily personal, but if the residence of the defendant is unknown it

may be made by a judicial edict giving notice of the action, of which one

copy must be posted at the door of the building where the court holds its

sessions, while a copy is published in the newspaper designated for the

official notices of the court, and another copy is transmitted to the

public prosecutor for the district in which the action is brought.

Before the case is tried the parties are obliged to appear in person and

without attorneys before the President of the Court which has jurisdiction

over the case, who hears each party separately and makes such

representations as he considers calculated to effect a reconciliation. If

a reconciliation is accomplished the fact is noted on the court records

and the case dismissed; otherwise the case is sent back to the court for


The trial is ordinarily in accordance with the rules of summary


EFFECTS OF DECREE.--The party for whose fault the separation was

pronounced incurs the loss of the marriage remainders; of all the uses

which the other party had granted in the marriage contract, and also of

the legal usufruct. The other party preserves the right to the remainders

and to every other use dependent on the marriage contract, even if

stipulated as reciprocal. In case both parties are equally at fault each

incurs the losses above indicated, the right of support in case of

necessity always being preserved.

CUSTODY OF CHILDREN.--The tribunal which pronounces the separation also

orders which of the parties shall retain the children. For grave reasons

it may commit the children to an educational institution or to the charge

of a third party. Whatever the disposition of the children, however, both

parents retain the right of supervising their education.

FOREIGN DIVORCES.--Decrees of divorce granted by foreign courts are not

recognized in Italy so far as Italian subjects are concerned.