Child Visitation Rights in Italy

Child Visitation Rights in Italy: Supreme Court Ruling

The Italian supreme court has ruled that grandchildren cannot be forced to visit grandparents if they don’t want to. The ruling, ending a 3-trial dispute, underscores the importance of considering children’s wishes in visitation matters.


The right to maintain relationships:

Since 2006, Italian family law has recognised a child’s right to maintain a meaningful relationship with their grandparents, despite a parental separation.

Grandparents also have the right to ask the 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.

Family tensions led to ruling on child visitation rights

In 2019, the paternal grandparents and uncle of two children took legal action in Milan. Their aim was to regain access to the minors after the parents blocked their visits due to a hostile family relationship.

The court found that the grandmother had acted aggressively towards her daughter-in-law and upset the children. Nonetheless, it still ruled in favour of the grandparents, allowing visits if supervised by a social worker. The parents appealed. However, the Milan appeal court ruled that the visits must continue and ordered the family to undergo group therapy.

Despite recognising the animosity between the grandmother and daughter-in-law, the judge warned that cutting off the grandparents could harm the children psychologically. However, the parents argued that the children did not want the visits due to family tensions.

The Italian supreme court then heard their case. The judge declared that the family could not compel the children to see their grandparents if they opposed the relationship and were over 12 with the ability to discern. The judge emphasised that the children’s welfare must be prioritised and that the family could not impose an, “unwelcome and unwanted relationship”.


Discernment in child visitation cases in Italy

“Discernimento” in Italian law involves good decision-making, especially in difficult situations. Careful consideration of facts, consequences and informed choices is necessary. In the legal context, it refers to decision-making ability and understanding of effects. Minors are considered capable of acting with discernment at 14, but in certain cases, they may be deemed so before 14. Italian law allows for legal guardians for minors lacking discernment, regardless of age.

family children

Finally …

The Italian supreme court’s ruling emphasises children’s interests and well-being as top priority. This can be hard for other family members to accept. However, the interests of children must come first. A family member cannot impose an undesired or unacceptable relationship on children over the age of 12 with discernment. Discernment means the ability to make good decisions.

At De Tullio Law Firm we provide legal advice and support in all fields of Italian law. Our particular specialties are Italian and cross border property, inheritance and family matters. If we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

You may like to read our comprehensive guide to Italian Family Law.

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