Separation with fault: Physical and platonic betrayal

With judgment No. 8929/13, the Supreme Court of Justices has once again dealt with the limits within which the blame can be laid on one of the spouses for the couple’s separation.

In the case at hand, it appears that the wife, despite not having had sex with other men, nevertheless cultivated a platonic relationship with another man, consisting in phone calls and the exchange of emails which, in her husband’s opinion, were tantamount to a betrayal.

The matter of law dealt with by the Supreme Court was whether an affair, in which sexual intercourse had not taken place, could be construed as infidelity, with the blame for the spouses’ separation being placed on the allegedly unfaithful spouse.

The Supreme Court reiterated that a spouse’s relationship with third parties leads, pursuant to article 151 of the Italian Civil Code, to the blame for the spouses’ separation being placed on the unfaithful spouse., not just when this consists in adultery but also when, on account of how such relationship is perceived in the place in which the couple live, there is a plausible suspicion of infidelity which offends the dignity and honor of the other spouse.

The Supreme Court held, however, that, the court of second instance had correctly ruled out that the wife’s could, in the case at hand, be misconstrued as an adulterous love affair giving rise to plausible suspects of infidelity since the relationship between the wife and the third party – consisting in telephone calls or exchanges over the Internet – had revealed itself to be platonic, in which the there was no mutual romantic involvement.

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