Are Children Legally Obligated to Visit Their Elderly Parents?

In 2011, China became the first country to pass national legislation legally obligating adult children to visit their elderly parents. There are no set parameters for how often children must visit, but parents in China who do not feel sufficiently cared for have legal grounds to sue their adult children. This law was put into place as a result of more adult children moving away from their parents and into bigger cities, which was thought to contribute to rising levels of the elderly being neglected or abused. Although a legal obligation for visitation is not common worldwide, adult children might be required to pay for their elderly parents’ expenses. For example, in the United States, 30 states have laws that make adult children legally responsible for their elderly parents' necessities, such as food, shelter and medical care, but those laws are rarely enforced.

More about parents and the elderly:

  • The World Health Organization estimates that in some countries, 10% of the elderly are neglected or abused in some way.

  • In many places, parents must get their children’s names approved by the government. For example, in Denmark, parents can choose from 7,000 pre-approved names.

  • There are projected to be about 1.2 billion people who are 60 or older in 2025 — more than twice as many as there were 30 years before that, in 1995.
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