Matrimonial instability and judicial separations. Prevailing models of conflict in a case study - Matrimonial instability brings meanings assimilated in the course of time and originally generated by changes taking place not only in the individual, but also in society as a whole, in the way that marriage is understood and in relations between the genders. Reacting to the trend that has the wife taking the initiative in the majority of divorce proceedings, several scholars have focused special attention on women’s changing role in society, on their more widespread presence in the labour market, on the satisfaction perceived inside the couple’s relationship and on new models of interaction in the family. Nevertheless, the analysis of matrimonial instability in Italy cannot avoid drawing a distinction between separations by mutual consent and judicial separations: while in the former more than half the women involved are employed and the spouses in question are more often than not in the medium to high income brackets, in the latter the proportion of employed women is significantly smaller and they tend to live in families in the lower income brackets. Although southern Italy still registers lower levels of matrimonial instability than the rest of the country, at the same time it has a higher proportion of spouses who choose the judicial path to separation. This idiosyncrasy of the South prompted further investigation of the phenomenon by analysing the texts of a sample of cases of judicial separation heard before the court of Catania, which revealed not only socio-economic variables among the spouses, but also in how they go about describing their conflicts, starting from a gender perspective.