ITALY – Italy’s top court has ruled that children are under no obligation to see their grandparents if they do not wish to do so.
The ruling was made in Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation this week, which is the highest court of appeal.
The Guardian reported that the decision followed an appeal by the parents of two children against the decision of a juvenile court in Milan.
The juvenile court had ruled that the youngsters had to spend time with their paternal grandparents, after the elderly couple and a paternal uncle took legal action.
They complained that they were unable to meet the children “due to the obstacles established by the parents”, with whom they were embroiled in a family conflict.
In 2019, the juvenile court ordered meetings between the children and grandparents in the presence of a social worker.
This was despite the parents’ objections, and an attempt to appeal against the decision failed.
The parents argued that the meetings were not appreciated by the children due to the ongoing family tensions, and later appealed to the Supreme Court of Cassation.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court’s ruling said there is “no doubt” that the two children would “benefit from a bond with the articulated line of generations”.
However, it noted that the children had expressed opposition to the relationship.
For that reason, they could not be forced to see their grandparents, especially in an environment of conflict.
The court ruled that the interests of the children must prevail over those of the grandparents and that an “unwelcome and unwanted relationship” cannot be imposed.
Children who are above 12 are capable of discerning if they want to maintain a relationship with their grandparents and cannot be forced to do so, it said.
Under a family law introduced in Italy in 2006, a child has the right to maintain a significant relationship with their grandparents, even if their parents separate.
Grandparents also have the right to ask a court to establish whether a parent’s decision to deny them access to their grandchildren is damaging to the child’s well-being and therefore illegal.