The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

China: New law obliges children to visit their elderly parents

A new law has been introduced in China which obliges grown-up children to take time out to visit their elderly parents, reports the BBC.

The law, passed on Monday, will make it illegal for grown-up children to avoid spending time with their parents, and imposes prison time for those who disobey it.

The 'Elderly Rights Law' declares that adults should care about their parents' spiritual needs and should never 'neglect or snub' them.

The controversial law has already drawn ridicule from web-savvy Chinese who have questioned how the law can be enforced and whether it is fair for those who live thousands of miles away due to work or study commitments.

The law declares that those who live furthest away should visit their parents the most. It also declares that it is an educational message for the Chinese public.

A Beijing lawyer told the BBC that the law would be difficult to enforce but not impossible to implement and could lead to problems for those who shun their parents.

"If a case is brought to court on the basis of this law, I think it'll probably end up in a peaceful settlement. But if no settlement is reached, technically speaking, court rulings can force the person to visit home certain times a month," he said.

Anyone disobeying a court order to visit their parents could face a fine or even jail.

"We all know to cherish our elderly parents, but sometimes we are just too busy trying to make a living and the pressure is too much," said one Chinese web user.

China is currently embroiled in huge controversy over the care of its ageing population. In 2010, 178 million citizens were over the age of 60, a figure that is expected to double by 2030, putting the number of retired people on a par with the entire population of the United States.