Grandparents must support their grandchild if the parent fails to pay

Grandparents must support their grandchild if the parent fails to pay

The Supreme Court of Cassation, in sentence No. 1520/2023, reiterates a principle already expressed in 2022 (Ordinance No. 30368/2022) and established by the Civil Code in Article 316 bis. The case began with the separation of the spouses years ago. The father of the child did not have a job and lived with his parents, so the Court of Velletri ordered in 2010 that the paternal grandparents would take care of the child’s maintenance in the absence of an income from the father.

The first-instance judges established that the grandparents should provide the actual economic maintenance of the 17-year-old grandson, paying the amount of €200 (out of €350 calculated at the time of the separation). Meanwhile, the grandfather passed away, and the grandmother, the sole heir of the deceased spouse since the son had renounced the inheritance, opposed the order, calling on the maternal grandparents, who she believed were equally responsible for the financial aspect concerning the grandchild. The Supreme Court reiterated the normative value of Article 316 bis of the Civil Code, stating that when parents do not have sufficient means, other ascending relatives, in order of proximity, are obliged to provide the parents with the necessary means to fulfill their duties towards their children. 

The new appeal was only ordered to define the economic terms, and subsequently, the paternal grandmother’s request to involve the maternal grandmother was rejected for a procedural matter. The content of Article 148 of the Civil Code, transposed into Article 316 bis, establishes the obligation of the spouses to fulfill their duty towards their children according to Article 147, and the obligation is proportional and compared to the financial situation of all the obligated parties. The obligation’s characteristics are solidarity among all obligated ascendants of the same degree, the subsidiary nature of the obligation, and the proportional criterion used for parents. The recent “Cartabia reform” also intervened on the norm, modifying paragraphs 2, 4, and 5, which apply to proceedings filed after the reform’s entry into force. 

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