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Women’s rights and cohabitation in Italy


If you decide to cohabite with your partner in Italy without getting married, bear in mind that Italian laws do not regulate your situation. However, a recent intervention of the Court of Cassation considered certain exceptions, provided you can prove that it is not an occasional relationship, but it is stable enough to guarantee a degree of certainty to cohabitation.

In certain cases the law confers value to cohabitation, recognising it as a de facto family, whether it is with a man or a woman.

In order to guarantee that this happens, it is important for you to register the family you have started together with your partner in the General Registry Office of the municipality where you live.

Remember that if you are married or divorced and start cohabiting with a new partner, you can either loose or see reduced your rights for the alimony you get from your spouse.

This disposition is now provided only in case the new partner is a man, but the reasons on which the sentences are based, may find application even if you cohabite with a woman.

If you work in the company owned by your partner, you do not have any financial rights. Hence, it is advisable for you to insist upon obtaining a regular working agreement.

If you have children with your cohabitee, it is important that he recognises them. Indeed, only if this happens you may lay claims for them in the future.

Pay attention to the following points:

  • For any child custody dispute, decisions will be taken by the Minors Court (Tribunale dei Minorenni).
  • For any child alimony dispute, you should appeal to the Trial Court (Tribunale Ordinario).

If cohabitation comes to an end, even if it lasted for a long time, you do not have any right to alimony: only children you have from your partner does, if he recognized them and they are under your custody.

Besides, under these conditions, you may be reimbursed for extraordinary expenses for the children, such as ordinary and specialist medical expenses, and studying expenses; you will also have the right to live in the house where you cohabited with your partner, or to take over the rental agreement if it is registered in the name of your partner. If you made purchases together, the goods will be assigned to the person who made the purchase. Remember to keep record of any invoice of the good you purchased: if you get separated they may be useful for obtaining the related goods or their respective value in money.

If your partner dies, you won’t have any right over his inheritance nor over the survivor’s pension, but if you have children with him they will be heirs with full legal effects, competing for the father’s inheritance with any other children born during a previous marriage.

You could compete for inheritance, only in the case that your partner made a will in your name, following the rules about shares in favour of legal heirs, as for instance the not divorced spouse, children, the parents; this has effect even in case you cohabit or have a stable relationship with another woman.

If the man you are cohabiting with is married to another woman or is legally separated from her, if he dies this woman will inherit his property. Unless he made a will in your favour, you will not have rights to any part of his estate.

If your cohabitee dies as a result of a traffic accident or an accident that occurred on the place where he works, you may ask for compensation of property damages charged upon the person who caused his death. Although, you must prove that you stably cohabited with him and that he paid for most of your living expenses.


  • If you opt for cohabitation, it is advisable from the beginning and irrespective of the solidity of the relationship, to write a ruling of cohabiting living, especially covering the economic aspects in case of separation. It is anyway advisable to jointly register any purchases, maintain your employment, and do anything in order to be financially independent.
  • If you have joint current accounts, check that they are in both names or if you only have a signature. In the latter case, in fact, your partner may exclude you from the account without seeking your authorization.


Extract from: I diritti delle donne: guida pratica / aggiornamento a cura della Commissione Provinciale Pari Opportunità della Provincia Autonoma di Trento.