A divorcing Italian couple who argued acrimoniously in front of their 12-year-old child and fought for his affection face prosecution for causing him psychological suffering. The charge, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years, was brought after a health visitor reported that the child was disturbed. Legal experts think there is no precedent for the case in Britain or Europe.

The prosecution reported that the mother and father blamed each other for “shortcomings and educational errors in bringing up the child”, with each parent trying to “discredit, devalue and undermine the other” in front of him and “project their emotions onto him, above all anger”. This caused the child to become anxious and depressed, unable to concentrate or do his schoolwork, confused him and instilled in him “the conviction that his parents hated each other”. Both parents persisted in arguing in front of the child even though he told them it was “making him feel ill”. They had “manipulated” the child in an attempt to make him decide between them” as part of their divorce battle.

A Milan judge will decide early next month whether to go ahead with the trial. If it does go ahead, it could have implications for countless other cases. The case is a sign of growing social alarm over the effects of divorce on children. ~ Times Online, Nov 8

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet