Twenty per cent of all divorces in Italy are now filed by people over the age of 65, new figures suggest.
According to the Associazione Matrimonialisti Familiaristi Italiani (Italian Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers), the newly published figure represents a jump of seven per cent over five years: in 2010, just 13 per cent of divorces in the country were filed by people over the age of 65.
While the majority of divorce filings come from middle-aged people aged 44 to 54, the surge in older people divorcing is thought to be related to a drastic cut earlier this year in the required waiting time for a divorce under Italian law, from three years to just six months.
Older people in unhappy marriages had previously feared they might not live to complete the divorce process, the Academy said, but a required separation period of only six months may have made divorce seem a more achievable goal for elderly people.
Academy President Gian Ettore Gassani told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero:
“Italians are changing dramatically, I don’t believe any other country has seen the changes we have seen in the last 20 years. Today there are cases that never existed before, people even over 80 who are asking for a divorce so they can start a new life.”
Approximately 50,000 divorce and separation requests were filed across Italy in the first six months of 2014, with the total doubling after the introduction of the new law in April. The Academy expects a further surge in September and October, when families across the country return from their summer holidays.
The majority of divorce applications in Italy, as elsewhere, are filed by women.