Grandchildren in Italy cannot be forced to visit their grandparents. This has now been decided by the highest Italian court Corte Suprema di Cassazione in Rome. The verdict thus reverses the decisions of lower courts, which initially ruled that grandparents could legally force their grandchildren to spend time with them, several Italian and international media reports.
The starting point of the year-long legal proceedings was a family dispute, as a result of which the parents of two children broke off contact with their paternal grandparents and uncle. They complained about this to the juvenile court in Milan. "Due to the obstacles set up by the parents", it is not possible to meet the children.
The grandparents won both the juvenile court and the Milan Court of Appeal, which ordered meetings between them and the children in the presence of a social worker in 2019. It also warned parents of possible psychological damage to children if they were no longer allowed to see their relatives.
The parents argued that the children did not want the meetings due to ongoing family tensions, so they appealed to the Supreme Court to have the decision overturned.
That's exactly what the Supreme Court did. In its ruling, it stated that while there was "no doubt" that the two children "would benefit from a connection with the contiguous generational lineage," the two had spoken out against the relationship and could not be forced to " ancestors", especially in a conflict environment.
Therefore, the court ruled that the children's interests must take precedence over those of the grandparents and that "an unwelcome and undesirable relationship" cannot be imposed, especially when the children are "discerning" and 12 years old.
The court thus strengthens the rights of grandchildren. Since 2006, Italy has had family law that says children have the right to establish and maintain a "significant relationship" with their grandparents, even if the child's parents separate.
Grandparents, on the other hand, have the right to ask a court to determine whether a parent's decision to refuse them access to their grandchildren is detrimental to the child's best interests and therefore unlawful. With the recent verdict, the vote of the affected grandchild has weight in this question for the first time.
Quellen: "Milano Today", "The Guardian"