Children should not have to spend time with their grandparents if they don’t want to, Italy’s highest court has ruled.
In Italy, the bonds between children and their “nonni” are considered practically sacred, with grandparents often picking kids up from school and looking after them until their parents return from work.
Grandparents dote on their grandchildren and often live close, fulfilling a role as part-time carers.
But the Supreme Court in Rome ruled that children, especially if they are over the age of 12 and “capable of discernment”, should not be compelled to hang out with Granny and Grandpa against their will.
The decision stemmed from a case in which a grandmother and grandfather had insisted that it was their right to see their two grandchildren, despite there being a fractious relationship with the children’s parents.
‘Unwelcome and unwanted relationship’ cannot be imposed on children
Their argument was accepted by a court in Milan and confirmed on appeal by a higher court in 2019, which ordered that a therapist from social services should be assigned to the family to try to tackle the rift between the parents and paternal grandparents.
But the parents objected, saying that relations had totally broken down, and lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court in Rome, their last resort.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that the desire of grandparents to see their grandchildren cannot be allowed to prevail over the interest of the children themselves if family relations are “disharmonious or conflictual.”
An “unwelcome and unwanted relationship” cannot be imposed on children, especially if they have reached the age of 12, the judges in the case said.
They criticised what they described as the “aggressive attitude” of the grandparents towards the parents in what had become a toxic family feud.