Chinese woman sues daughter and son-in-law for US$26,000 for raising their son for 5 years as she feels ‘efforts not rewarded’

A Chinese court ordering a man and his wife to pay a childcare fee of 82,500 yuan (US$11,300) to her mother for taking care of their child for five years has become a trending story on mainland social media.

The grandmother, surnamed Duan, from the city of Guangan in Sichuan province in southwestern China, filed a lawsuit claiming 192,000 yuan (US$26,000) in childcare fees from her daughter, surnamed Hu, and her son-in-law, surnamed Zhu.

Duan had cared for their son for five years, between February 2018 and July 2023, Jiupai News reported.

Hu and her husband, both employed in the city of Chengdu, did not have time to look after their boy, whose age is not disclosed.

Duan began caring for her grandson since 2018. Her daughter and son-in-law sent her a monthly stipend of 1,000 yuan (US$135) and a childcare fee of 2,000 yuan.

Duan looked after the boy for five years without complaint. In July, she finally decided her efforts had not been adequately rewarded and she deserved more compensation so she asked the couple to pay her 192,000 yuan.

In traditional Chinese culture, grandparents often care for their grandchildren. Photo: Shutterstock

Hu thought her mother wanted too much. Without discussing the matter with her husband, Hu promised to pay 50,000 yuan (US$6,800) to her mother and they signed an agreement.

But Hu didn’t complete the payment despite being frequently urged to by her mother. Then Duan sued the couple.

The court found Duan had no legal obligation to rear her grandson and deserved a childcare fee from the couple.

However, the court also found the amount Duan had demanded was too high and reduced it to 82,500 yuan.

It is not uncommon for three generations to live under one roof in China where this arrangement allows many couples to hand over childcare to grandparents when they are at work. Photo: Shutterstock

According to Zhu, Duan sued for the childcare fee because Zhu now has a divorce dispute. “The person she wants to sue is me,” he said.

The story went viral on mainland China media, with many praising Duan.

“The compensation she requests is right,” one observer said.

“She is wise,” another commented. “Her purpose is to protect and fight for her daughter.”

Stories about family monetary disputes frequently become internet sensations in China.

In February, a lottery winner in eastern China who tried to conceal 10 million yuan (US$1.4 million) in prize money from his wife was ordered by a mainland court to pay millions of yuan in compensation.

In September 2022, a 29-year-old woman in southern China was sued by her estranged parents after she refused to buy her younger brother an apartment.

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