The economic consequences of marital instability have been studied at length in the United States and, more recently, in Europe, whereas in Italy the research literature is appreciably less extensive. This article explores the effect of selected factors on the probability of experiencing serious economic difficulties ensuing from a separation or a divorce. A binomial logistic regression model was applied on data drawn from Istat's 2003 survey on family and social subjects. Moreover, the article also examines Istat data concerning maintenance payments for exspouses and children. Findings show that, as in other Western countries, the economic costs of the end of a marriage are greater for women. A low educational level and the presence of children increase the odds of serious economic difficulties, whereas separating at a more advanced age exerts a protective influence. Maintenance payments do not appear to be effective in compensating gender inequality.