A divorce is easier to get in some states than others. For instance, New York State does not have a separation requirement before spouses may divorce, but other states require the spouses to live apart for several months before they can end their marriage. In some cases, even a brief reconciliation can cancel out months of living apart, forcing the spouses to wait even longer.

No doubt, roadblocks like this have caused some people to decide against divorce, which might be the point. But for those trapped in an unhappy or abusive marriage because the state’s requirements are too difficult to achieve, things like a separation requirement might seem unfair.

It appears that a change in Italy’s divorce laws has freed several couples who have been waiting decades to divorce to actually do so. In April, the Parliament passed a law reducing the mandatory separation period in uncontested divorce cases from three years to six months, according to the International Business Times.

For many unhappily married elderly Italians, this change made divorce a realistic option. The Italian Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that the divorce rate for people age 65 and above is now 20 percent, up from 13 percent just five years ago. The group believes that, before the new law, older people who wanted a divorce often did not bother, because they did not know if they would live to see the end of a three-year divorce process.

Now, with a six-month separation requirement, the process may seem more realistic.

In New York, filing for divorce can seem like a momentous, possibly scary, step to take. A knowledgeable divorce attorney will know how to walk you through the process to minimize surprises.