A court in Italy has ruled that child support can be paid in the form of pizza after a divorced baker supplied his ex-wife with €400 ($664) worth every month.
A 50-year-old pizza baker from a small village outside Padua, northern Italy, was acquitted on criminal charges of failing to pay child support after a judge ruled that he had done his best during hard times to provide €400 worth of pizzas, calzone and other goods from the takeaway pizza place where he worked.
The couple, Nicola Toso and Nicoletta Zuin, divorced in 2002. By 2008, as Italy was hit by a deep economic crisis, the pizza baker, who had since remarried and had three more children, began struggling to make ends meet. From 2008 to 2010 he offered his ex-wife free food instead of the 400 euros a month stipulated in their divorce agreement. At the time, his daughter was 12.
"In lieu of money, the defendant offered his ex-wife the same amount of compensation in the form of takeaway pizzas from his workplace, an offer promptly rejected as 'beggar's change'," wrote Judge Chiara Bitozzi in her ruling.
With a pizza in the village of 10,000 inhabitants costing an average cost of €5 a pie, the ex-wife could have had the right to take-away 80 pizzas a month - more than two a day. But fed up with the paltry pizza payoff, his ex-wife filed a criminal complaint.
In his defence, attorney Sonia Della Greca argued the pizza baker had truly fallen on hard times and had amassed big debts, to the point that he was forced to close his business in 2010 after being unable to pay vendors and employees.
Ms Della Greca also pointed out that he had held up all his other custody obligations, not missing visits and helping his daughter develop positive relations with his new partner and her three new half-siblings, facts also established in the daughter's deposition in her father's defence.
The reporter who wrote about the case in Il Gazzettino newspaper of Padua said he stumbled on to it during a records check at the courthouse, usually his first stop for more serious scoops on mafia and terrorism. "I was just sifting through the court records and I saw someone acquitted of not paying child support, which you don't see very often," said Lino Lava.