China is considering a new law that will force people to either visit their elderly parents or face jail time.
Under the terms of the draft legislation, pensioners who are ignored by their children will have the right to take them to court.
In traditional Chinese culture, it is a moral requirement for children to take care of their ageing parents, but work pressures and growing migration have frayed family ties.
Decades of enforcing a law restricting families to just one child has also left fewer workers supporting more elderly relatives.
If the law is passed, children could face fines or even jail if they snub court rulings to physically and mentally look after their parents.
Wu Ming, an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said the change is being ushered in as an amendment to the 1996 Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Aged.
"Elderly parents can resort to law according to the amendment if their adult children do not visit or spend enough time with them," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"In the past, such cases might not have been accepted by the courts, but now things will be different," he stated.
However, a Chinese lawyer said the new ruling would be difficult to uphold.
"It would be better to strengthen moral education than to force people to do something legally," Qian Jun stated.