A HANGZHOU court has made China's first ruling that married couples have the legal burden of caring not only for their children, but also for one another. According to a report in the Beijing Morning Post, the Hangzhou City Xihu District Court recently ruled that a taxi driver surnamed Wang, who has not supported his wife or son in four years, has to pay them 400 yuan (HK$376) a month towards living expenses. This case is momentous, as Chinese courts in most cases refuse to intervene in what they consider private family affairs. The lack of such legal support has left victims of domestic violence, marital rape and other crimes at the mercy of their abusers. The paper reported that Hangzhou transport worker Lu Hong married her husband in 1995, and gave birth to their son in 1996. After the birth, Lu Hong developed a high fever and eventually was diagnosed with diabetes. While Ms Lu was in hospital seeking treatment, her husband switched the locks on the doors of their home and refused to give her the new key. The severity of Ms Lu's diabetes reportedly increased due to shock over her husband's treatment and, consequently, she went blind. Unable to take care of herself and unable to work, Lu was forced to cover both her own and her son's living and educational expenses solely with the 232.66 yuan per month she received as sick leave pay from her job. When numerous requests over the years failed to convince her husband that he had a moral responsibility to take care of the family he abandoned, she turned to a lawyer for help. The Xihu District Court ruled that husbands and wives have a mutual responsibility to care for one another. Additionally, the court felt Mr Wang had shirked his responsibility as a father by not supporting his son. The court concluded that the plaintiff's sick pay was insufficient to provide her or her son with even a basic living standards in Hangzhou, and made its calculation of 400 yuan monthly support based on hers and her son's practical needs.