A local court ordered an elderly cancer patient's children to pay him monthly financial support, according to a press release issued Monday.
The plaintiff, a widower surnamed Chen who is in his 80s, began last year asking his four children for 1,000 yuan ($160) each month to cover his medical and living expenses, according to a press release from Zhabei District People's Court. Chen had been diagnosed with prostate cancer the previous year and had spent all of his monthly income on medical treatment and a nurse to take care of him.
With the exception of his youngest daughter, the children refused Chen's request. In court, the three defendants argued that Chen's pension and savings were enough to cover his living expenses, especially after he sold his apartment in 2007. The court determined that Chen had earned 300,000 yuan from the sale of the property, which he had owned with his wife.
Chen said that he gave half the proceeds from the sale to his youngest daughter, according to his deceased wife's will. He spent the rest on his cancer treatment and daily expenses.
The court ruled that adults have a duty under the law to support their elderly parents. Because Chen had cancer and could not care for himself, his children were obligated to provide him with financial support, according to the press release. The court ordered the three children to each pay Chen 250 yuan a month, a decision it based on each one's economic circumstances. It also asked the youngest daughter to continue paying him 1,000 yuan per month.
Adult support cases have become less common over the last 10 years due to the rising standard of living in Shanghai, said Hu Jianxin, a press officer with the court.
"Chinese people do have a strong sense of responsibility to support their parents in old age," he told the Global Times.
China's Marriage Law requires adult children to support their elderly parents, and the courts usually side with elderly parents in such lawsuits if they are sick or have little income, said Lian Yanjie, a lawyer with Shanghai Xinhua Law Firm.
"I think the law is partially based on Confucius culture, which emphasizes family bonds. Another reason is the current less than ideal social welfare system," he said.