The Supreme Court has decided that neither poor relations nor a lack of any understanding between parents and grandparents can justify denying the grandparents access to their grandchildren. Accordingly, a visitation schedule should be established to provide for contact and communication between the grandparents and the child in the case before the Court despite the poor relations between the mother and grandmother of the child.
The appeal was brought by the grandparents of a child against the decision of the High Court in Seville. The Sevillian court had refused to establish a visitation schedule so that the grandparents could maintain contact with the child on the basis of the young age of the child (three years old) and the poor relationship between the parents and the grandmother of the child.
According to the High Court, ‘the dire relationship between the grandmother and her daughter could have negative repercussions on the development and stability of the child,’ The Court believed that should the relations between the parents and grandparents improve and when the child was somewhat older, that ‘a desirable system of communication between the grandparent and the child could be established’.
Article 160 of the Civil Code
In considering the matter the Supreme Court considered the meaning and extent of Article 160.2 of the Civil Code which states: It is not permitted to impede, unless there be just cause, the interpersonal relationship between a child and his or her grandparents. It therefore becomes necessary to determine exactly what ‘just cause’ means.
According to the Supreme Court, ‘just cause’ does not mean circumstances where the parents and grandparents of the child simply do not maintain good relations. Moreover, it does not mean where there is no understanding or agreement as between the two parties.
The Supreme Court felt that there had been no definite explanation given as to how or why, in the case before it, the child would suffer any negative repercussions as a result of the poor relations between the parents and the grandmother and labelled that argument as merely speculative, in the absence of any demonstration to the contrary.
In this respect the Court did highlight the fact that the right of the grandparents to enjoy contact and communicate with the child could be suspended or limited if any ill will was shown by the child to the mother that could be attributed to the relationship with the grandmother.