“Paga gli alimenti all’ex moglie con pizze e focacce, il giudice lo assolve.” When I first started doing family law, a more experienced colleague told me that one of the fun things about it is that “no two days are the same.” Boy did that prove to be true.
In a rather unusual case, an Italian man told his ex-wife he could no longer afford to pay his child support obligation (300 euros per month, which comes out to about $335.00) in cash, but offered to pay her in the form of 300 euros worth of pizza, foccacia bread and other baked goods. He owned what it appears was some sort of takeout restaurant. The ex-wife apparently was fine with the arrangement until he shut down the restaurant in 2010, at which point she filed the equivalent of a Motion for Contempt for non-payment of support. The ex-husband ended up being charged with roughly the equivalent of criminal contempt, but his lawyer argued that despite enduring extremely tough times, he had still fulfilled all his other custody obligations and had even taken in his daughter in 2011 when her relationship with her mother broke down (Doesn’t this sound familiar? Sounds like Italian divorce is not so different from American divorce.). The Judge ultimately found that there was no evidence any crime had been committed, and dismissed the case. It appears as though the ex-husband prevailed based on the equivalent under Italian law of a “substantial performance” defense.
I can’t imagine this issue will come up again soon, and certainly not in Cincinnati, Ohio, but you never know. If nothing else, this case shows the importance of creativity. When times are tough and budgets are tight, you never know what kind of creative bargaining might help make it a better deal for everyone.