Decision of the Court of Cassation, I Civil Section, No. 23291 of 17 July 2015

A foreign woman, who replaced her surname with that of her husband, has a right to keep it even after the dissolution of the marriage has been pronounced in Italy, if it is so provided by her national law. For the Court of Cassation, the Court on the merits had interpreted the relevant legal framework in a correct manner, i.e.: the dissolution of the marriage was to be governed by Italian law, while the issue concerning surname, which falls within personality rights, had to be settled under the legislation of Sweden (of which the woman was a national). This latter criterion is set forth in the Convention on the Law Applicable to Surnames and Forenames of 1980, ratified by Italy.  On other hand, Italian law was not applicable, despite a different conclusion could derive from law No. 218/1995 (norms on private international law). This because, first, the husband’s surname may only be added to that of the wife, and not replace it, under Italian legislation. Secondly, law No. 218 expressly states in Article 2 that its application is without prejudice of the relevant treaties. The Court finally observed that the solution adopted in Swedish law was not contrary to Italian public order: it is, indeed, consistent with the protection of the personality rights in accordance with Italian Constitution.