The increase follows a move in April by the Italian government to overhaul the country’s divorce laws and reduce the time required for a divorce in uncontested cases from three years to six months.
Figures from the Italian Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AMI) show requests from the over 65 age group are at a record 20 percent - compared to 13 percent for the same category in 2010.
“Italians are changing dramatically, I don’t believe any other country has seen the changes we have seen in the last 20 years,” Gian Ettore Gassani, president and founder of AMI, told daily Il Messaggero.
“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.”
While the majority of divorce requests are coming from the 44 to 54 age group it is the demand from the elderly that has surprised the nation’s divorce lawyers.
In one case cited by Il Messaggero, a 90-year-old retired doctor in Umbria demanded a divorce so he could marry a woman more than 30 years younger. But most of the divorce requests come from women.
AMI said that in the past those over the age of 65 were afraid they would not see the conclusion of the legal process, but reducing the mandatory separation to only six months has made it possible for them to begin a new life.
In the first half of 2014 there were 50,000 separations and divorce requests and the organization said the number had already doubled following the approval of the new law.
Gassani said there was expected to be a surge of requests in September and October.
“Couples come back from vacation where they have spent more time together and have fought and then they want to say goodbye,” he said. “The same thing happens in January after Christmas.”