Sorry, Grandpa—you don't get to visit with the grandkids unless they want to. At least that's now the case in Italy, where the nation's high court has handed down the decision that grandchildren can't be forced to see their grandparents, reports the Guardian. It's the culmination of a case that dragged out for years after the paternal grandparents of two children, as well as a paternal uncle, went after the kids' parents in a Milanese juvenile court for the right to see the children. The grandparents and uncle were in a feud with the children's parents, and they said in their initial complaint that they were kept from the kids "due to the obstacles established by the parents."
The juvenile court ruled in the grandparents' favor, as did an appeals court, the latter of which rebuked the parents of depriving the children of their relatives' company, stating it could cause psychological damage to the kids. That court also ordered get-togethers with the kids and grandparents, with a social worker as chaperone—meetings the parents said the kids didn't want, considering all the infighting. Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, however, sided with the parents, noting that even though there was "no doubt" that the kids would "benefit" by forging a bond with their grandparents, the children's rights trumped the grandparents', and that an "unwelcome and unwanted relationship" couldn't be forced—especially if the kids had reached the age of 12 and were "capable of discernment."
The Italian outlet Vita notes it's long been entrenched in Italian culture that "blood ties" are "always good and a priority," but that the high court's decision now makes it clear that "the child is at the center: The right is his, only his." Cristina Maggia, IDed by the Daily Mail as the head of the minors court in Brescia, agrees. "Children must be able to have relationships with grandparents and other family members if these relationships are useful and productive of well-being for the child himself," she tells Vita. "If this is not the case, if the relationship is imposed on the children, there is no right for the grandparents to maintain a relationship with the grandchildren." (Read more Italy stories.)