While British Columbia recently abolished the longstanding law that permitted impecunious parents to sue their children for monthly support, China’s Law for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly came into effect yesterday.
The law provides that where adult children neglect, even fail to visit their parents, they could face court action where an order for visitation and a compensatory payment to their parent may be ordered.
In a country with core values of family fidelity, many Chinese are astounded that such a law is required. However, with an over-sixty population numbering 200 million and one-third of that group living on less than $500 a year, the government has stepped in to ensure that the elderly are not neglected.
On day one of the new law, the People’s Court in Beitang District heard a case brought against a couple by the wife’s elderly mother. The Court ordered that visitation take place once every two months and a compensation payment of an unknown amount was ordered.
In neighbouring Singapore, a law was enacted in 1999 which allows parents to sue their children for a monthly allowance. Over 400 applications have been brought under this law, with a success rate of 80%.
As for British Columbia’s old law, its abolishment was no surprise since it was rarely invoked and when a claim was brought for parental support, the emotional and financial cost of the tortuous process almost ensured there would be little net gain.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang