The woman's spending addiction is a “personality disorder”, according to expert reports heard by the court. It was defined as “an overwhelming and immediate impulse to buy” and “a feeling of growing tension, which can only be alleviated by spending.”
The report explained that she was fully aware of her problem, and that her purchases, which included “expensive bags, clothes and jewellery”, were becoming more frequent and more costly, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.
The addiction showed signs of spiralling out of control, and she had even been driven to borrow money from family members.
The 58-year-old will now have to curb her spending after losing her right to the €2,000 monthly maintenance cheque, which had originally been granted to her by local courts in Pisa following her marriage separation.
But her ex-husband took the case to Florence's Court of Appeal in March 2008, where the wife was found responsible for the separation, and refused the maintenance money.
She appealed the decision, with the defence that the addiction was a “pathological illness”. But Italy's highest appeals court, the Court of Cassation, has rejected the wife's appeal, on the grounds that experts ruled she was aware of her problem and so it constituted a 'violation of her marital duties', on the same level as having an affair.
She was declared responsible for the separation, and will now also have to foot the €3,000 bill for legal fees.