“You never call”: a common lament of elderly parents aimed at their adult children. Now, it appears that failing to call, or more specifically, to visit your parents in China may result in legal action.
According to a recent Toronto Star article, China has recently amended its law on the elderly to require that adult children visit their parents “often”, or risk being sued by them.
China, perhaps more than any other country, is facing a significant issue with its aging population. In just fifty years, the average life expectancy soared from 41 to 73. Coupled with family planning policies that limit most families to a single child, and a lack of affordable options for the care of the elderly, such as retirement or nursing homes, this has led to an elder care crisis. The legislation is aimed at assisting the elderly in seeking care.
While the legislation may seem extreme, there is already legislation on the books in Ontario to a similar effect. While it does not require visits, section 32 of the Family Law Act provides that an adult child has “an obligation to provide support, in accordance with need, for his or her parent who has cared for or provided support for the child, to the extent that the child is capable of doing so.”
The Ontario provision was applied in a few reported decisions. It was discussed in an adoption decision, Re Proposed Adoption of Q.(A.L.K.). There, the court noted that “dependencies shift” from parent to child, and an adult child has a “clear responsibility … to shore up the parent’s own financial resources, if the parent has need of that.”
Note to my children: Govern yourselves accordingly, Christopher and Marc.
Have a great weekend.