Italian sex-slave case has ‘many’ shades of grey

Year Published: 2012

An Italian woman who signed a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ contract promising total sexual and mental submission to her husband, is now divorcing him citing mistreatment after seven years of slavery.

The woman signed the explicitly worded contract with her then boyfriend in 2004. They married in 2006 and separated last year. The woman has shown the contract to her lawyers to support her demands for a divorce and accusations of physical abuse. The husband argues that the wife signed the contract of her own volition and that their activities were always consensual. It is now up to the Italian prosecutor to rule whether the wife has grounds for her claims for physical abuse or whether her accusations should be dismissed on the grounds of her consent.

Could this happen in England? Well, in theory – yes.

One of the grounds for divorce is a spouse’s unreasonable behaviour – and this type of scenario would fall to be considered under that. However, I would never advise a client to issue a ‘warts and all’ divorce petition. These days, the grounds for divorce have no bearing on the financial outcome in a divorce – or on any arrangements for any children.

Filing a divorce petition that is likely to be defended will only serve to increase costs and heighten emotions – at a time when costs and emotions are already running high – with no actual benefit.

In my experience controversial divorce petitions simply culminate in a couple spending time arguing over why a marriage ended, rather than focusing on how best to sort things out for the future. And may end up in the press – as this Italian couple have found!

To speak to us about any family / matrimonial legal matter please call Chester lawyer, Liz Bottrill in our Family team on 01244 305 922.

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