February 26, 2006

Filial Responsibility Laws - List of States Having Them

States with filial responsibility laws are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

To look up the actual language of the statutes, here are the citations:

1. Alaska Stat. 25.20.030, 47.25.230 (Michie 2000)

2. Arkansas Code Ann. 20-47-106 (Michie 1991)

3. California Fam. Code 4400, 4401, 4403, 4410-4414 (West 1994), California Penal Code 270c (West 1999), California Welf. & Inst. Code 12350 (West Supp. 2001)

4. Connecticut Gen. Stat. Ann. 46b-215, 53-304 (West Supp. 2001)

5. Delaware Code Ann. tit. 13, 503 (1999)

6. Georgia Code Ann. 36-12-3 (2000)

7. Idaho Code 32-1002 (Michie 1996)

8. Indiana Code Ann. 31-16-17-1 to 31-16-17-7 (West 1997); Indiana Code Ann. 35-46-1-7 (West 1998)

9. Iowa Code Ann. 252.1, 252.2, 252.5, 252.6, 252.13 (West 2000)

10. Kentucky Rev. Stat. Ann. 530.050 (Banks-Baldwin 1999)

11. Louisiana Rev. Stat. Ann. 4731 (West 1998)

12. Maryland Code Ann., Fam. Law 13-101, 13-102, 13-103, 13-109 (1999)

13. Massachusetts Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 273, 20 (West 1990)

14. Mississippi Code Ann. 43-31-25 (2000)

15. Montana Code Ann. 40-6-214, 40-6-301 (2000)

16. Nevada Rev. Stat. Ann. 428.070 (Michie 2000);
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 439B.310 (Michie 2000)

17. New Hampshire Rev. Stat. Ann. 167:2 (1994)

18. New Jersey Stat. Ann. 44:4-100 to 44:4-102, 44:1-139 to 44:1-141 (West 1993)

19. North Carolina Gen. Stat. 14-326.1 (1999)

20. North Dakota Cent. Code 14-09-10 (1997)

21. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2919.21 (Anderson 1999)

22. Oregon Rev. Stat. 109.010 (1990)

23. 62 Pennsylvania Cons. Stat. 1973 (1996)

24. Rhode Island Gen. Laws 15-10-1 to 15-10-7 (2000); R.I. Gen. Laws 40-5-13 to 40-5-18 (1997)

25. South Dakota Codified Laws 25-7-28 (Michie 1999)

26. Tennessee Code Ann. 71-5-115 (1995), Tenn. Code Ann. 71-5-103 (Supp. 2000)

27. Utah Code Ann. 17-14-2 (1999)

28. Vermont Stat. Ann. tit. 15, 202-03 (1989)

29. Virginia Code Ann. 20-88 (Michie 2000)

30. West Virginia Code 9-5-9 (1998).

These state laws vary; however, law student Shannon Edelstone, in her award-winning essay (cited below), studied all of the state laws and found that most agree that children have a duty to provide necessities for parents who cannot do so for themselves. The states' legislation also gives guidelines to the courts, telling judges to use a number of factors when weighing the adult child's ability to pay against the indigent parent's needs. Judges, accordingly, have considered such variables as the adult child's financing of their child's college education, as well as his/her personal needs for savings and retirement.

What state had the most court cases dealing with application of its statute? In my search, it was California.

Sources: Filial Responsibility: Can the Legal Duty to Support Our Parents Be Effectively Enforced? by Shannon Frank Edelstone, appearing in the Fall 2002 issue of the American Bar Association's Family Law Quarterly, 36 Fam. L.Q. 501 (2002); my own research using Lexis.Com.

June 9, 2010 Update:  I have discovered that the New York Times has used this post as a graphic without my knowledge or permission. The link to that graphic, which accompanied an article written by Jane Gross in the Times' New Old Age Blog is here:  http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/health/NOA/30states.pdf

I've written the Editor.  I suppose some would say that having your stuff lifted by the New York Times is a backwards compliment. 

Personally, I just want my readers to know that I did this work, I'm not the one who has stolen a blog post here. 


Bill Boushka said...

It seems that very few political activists are very conscious of filial responsibility laws, which, in conjunction with the Defecit Reduction Act of 2005, may have become a financial time bomb for many unsuspecting adult children. In the gay marriage debate, it is surprising that the "gay establishment" has so completely overlooked this issue, which looks like the next biggie for the cultural right to promote. I have an editorial on it with references at http://www.doaskdotell.com/controv/filial.htm : Filial
Responsibility Laws

Elder Justice Advocates for Guardianship Reform said...

When are they going to warn the adult children of the elderly "the baby boomers" that this is the law?

They are already destroying us in guardianships that are corrupt now this? What happened to America?

OnThePath said...

Good grief. I have been sole caregiver for 8 years of mother with Alz...with three deadbeat sisters who will not help and whose thefts caused conservatorship.

I was just starting to investigate what the traditions were in other countries, such as the eldest son moving in with parents (his wife also, and kids), and they care for his parents until they die...then he inherits the entire estate. This list is NEWS, and the fact that CA has it is very interesting. Will look into it further.

Unknown said...

Hi CJ,
First, thanks for writing.
Second, I've collected some more info that may (or may not) be of use to you -- here's the link where you can read all my posts on Filial Responsibility Laws (which have links to more info within them):


Hope this helps.
God bless,

Anonymous said...

My mother just informed me that she has no intent of living within her means, since her children will have to take care of her anyway. Not only has this woman gifted most of her assets to her precious sons, but she stopped talking to me when I married outside of my race. She stopped talking to me for four years, then had a change of hear when time she realized that my husband and I had done well for ourselves. I feel completely abused by these laws.

Unknown said...

Hi Anonymous,
I was shocked to learn of these laws being on the books of so many states, as well, when I first learned of them -- which is why I keep writing about filial responsibiity periodically.

Unfortunately, as state budgets get tighter, I'm afraid that filial responsibility laws are going to be considered as more worthy of enforcement than they have in the past.

Of course, not every state has them. You didnt mention it, but I'm wondering in which state you and your mother reside, whether it's the same one, etc.

Thanks for writing, Anonymous. The time that it takes to post a comment is appreciated.

Good luck to you and God bless!

Anonymous said...

AARP just published an article mentioning filial responsibility laws. You can be sure that greedy states want to find more ways to milk money out of people. For those with abusive parents, who spend most of their adult lives trying to distance themselves from more abuse, these laws are a nightmare. If you live in a state without this law and your parent lives in another with the law, is it possible that you could be sued and forced to pay support? It seems unfair that a child who has little or no relationship with a parent would have to pay ANYTHING for them.

Anonymous said...


Who pays the nursing home bill in these states if the elderly person is childless?

Unknown said...

Hi Anonymous,
Filial responsibility laws apply to parent / child relationships. For those without kids, then you would have to look the particular state's law - I'm thinking that Medicaid would apply as well as whatever state services were available if the elderly person had no personal assets, insurance, etc.

Here in San Antonio, Texas, a guardian ad litem might be appointed via the probate court for both the person and the estate to act in the best interests of someone incapacitated. The GAL would investigate available assets, family members, and also insure the person was getting proper care at the nursing home.

Hope this helps,

Anonymous said...

In the case of long term care, would Medicare be responsible for financing the care before the children?

Anonymous said...

The primogeniture law goes back centuries, long before the founding of the USA. Under this law, ONLY the eldest son could inherit,upon death of the father the land, home, everything the mother always thought of as hers, was now the property of her eldest son. IF he chooses, she may remain in "her" home as a guest of the son and his wife if he has one. If there was no legitmate son to inherit, then the illegitimate son did. That was why it was so important for a man of means to keep track of ALL of his sons.

I know for a fact that this law was still observed in Ireland as recently as the late 1960's. early '70's. I don't know if it is still observed.

I didn't see an answer as to what happens when the parents or children live in different states with different laws. Clarity on this please.

Anonymous said...

My sister is estranged from my mother. My brother was treated unfairly by her, but he is still kind toward her. I mended my relationship with her decades ago, and now I'm very fond of her and treasure our friendship. I plan to take care of her, when that time comes. But, if for some reason, I can't be around, I have purchased a life insurance policy if something should happen to me, with my husband overseeing how the money is spent (I don't want her to run out). He's a very loving man, and so I trust him immensely. I don't want her to be destitute in her elderly years. My brother is a good guy, too, and he would continue to be kind, but he would not have to worry about the financial side. And my sister, she would not have to be asked for anything. I doubt they know about these laws. I know I didn't until now. I have nephews whose parents (my inlaws) are spendthrifts. I can see them carrying their parents' burdens during their peak earning years. I can see this causing a lot of conflict with their own (someday) young marriages. But they have been coddled by the family, and bailed out. I hope I'm wrong. I hope their parents can get it together.

Unknown said...

Hi Anon 526,
I'm not surprised that you hadn't heard about the filial responsibility laws - I don't know that many boomers (or subsequent generations) are aware of them.

What I'm wondering now is how - or IF - Obamacare impacts filial responsibility laws in any way at all (as Medicare has done in the past). I don't know the answer to that question.

Thanks for writing, and God bless,

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