Previous research has found parental divorce to have negative effects on children's educational attainment; in addition, it has been noted that the effects of divorce are not the same in all western societies. However, research on catholic and southern european countries is missing. The aim of this paper is to add to the research on the relation between parental divorce and the educational attainment of children in catholic and southern european societies. Italian society differs from other western societies with respect to many characteristics of its family structure, its cultural and religious systems, its social welfare system, and also with respect to the legislation, frequency and characteristics of divorce. Based on data of the bank of italy survey of households’ income and wealth, we find that the educational level of the children with divorced parents is lower than the educational level of children with married parents. The analysis indicates that the education of children born to the least educated divorced mothers lags significantly behind children of the least educated married mothers, while the educational level of children of highly educated mothers does not deviate from that of children of highly educated mothers who remain married. Next, contrary to what has been found in other european societies, this research shows that widowhood has a significant negative effect on children's educational attainment as well. Finally, the study also demonstrates that the negative effect of divorce cannot be explained by the negative impact of the religious climate of the region of residence.