The right of grandparents to visit their small grandchildren cannot prevail over the interests of minors if they express their opposition to maintaining a relationship with their grandparents. This has been decided by an Italian court when upholding the appeal of the parents of two children who had a bad relationship with their paternal grandparents and their uncle, after they resorted to justice to see the children. Thus, the Supreme Court warns: there can be no “imposition of an unwanted relationship”, especially if they are children capable of discerning or who are already over 12 years old.

In the opinion of the Supreme Court, “the judge’s task is not to determine which relative should prevail over another in a conflict situation, but to establish, always looking out for the interest of the minor, whether the non-harmonious -or even conflictive- relationships between adults that are part of the same family can be solved and how it should be done”. And, in the specific case valued by the Supreme Court, the social services themselves had verified “the impossibility of offering mediation because the conflict was unresolvable.”

In the first instance, the Court of Milan had ordered that the minor meet with his grandparents and his paternal uncle in the presence of an educator. In addition, it determined that the relationship between them could continue “freely” since the grandmother “had shown that she was being treated by a psychiatrist” since she had been very aggressive with the children’s parents. According to this court, “it was necessary to make parents aware of the psychological damage to which their children were exposed, forced to live deprived of the affections [of their grandparents] that could enrich them in a climate induced by fear and resentment.”

That is to say, the court invited all the adults to follow “a course of extended family therapy” and instructed the social services “to supervise the situation of the two children and regulate their meetings with their grandparents and their uncle”. Since they considered that “there was no real prejudice for the children to spend time with their grandparents and their uncle”, it recognized the right of the paternal family to maintain a relationship with the two children.

But the Supreme Court does not share this point of view and has stressed in its ruling that “the absence of real damage to spend time with grandparents and uncle” is not enough. According to this court, it is necessary to verify if the relatives can participate “actively in the life of the grandchildren by means of the construction of an affective relationship that favors the healthy and balanced development of their personality”.

In no case can you resort to the “coercion” of your grandchildren, but you can try to use the “arsenal” of “soft tools for modulating relationships that are capable of creating spontaneity in the relationship with minors instead of imposing unwanted relationships. Finally, they also do not agree with the “involvement of the paternal grandmother in the educational and training project of her grandchildren despite not wanting to submit to the clinical indications” suggested by the Court of Appeal and given her “acknowledged maintenance of an attitude aggressive towards the parents of minors”.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project