Filial Support Laws in the Modern Era: Domestic and International Comparison of Enforcement Practices for Laws Requiring Adult Children to Support Indigent Parents

46 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2012 Last revised: 26 Apr 2013

Katherine C. Pearson

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law

Date Written: January 23, 2013

Abstract

Family responsibility and support laws have a long but mixed history. When first enacted, policy makers used such laws to declare an official policy that family members should support each other, rather than draw upon public resources. This article tracks modern developments with filial support laws that purport to obligate adult children to financially assist their parents, if indigent or needy. The author diagrams filial support laws that have survived in the 21st Century and compares core components in the United States (including Puerto Rico) and post-Soviet Union Ukraine. While the laws are often similar in wording and declared intent, this article demonstrates that enforcement practices are quite different among the two countries, even as both countries struggle with aging populations and recession. In addition, the author analyzes a potentially disturbing trend emerging in at least two U.S. states, most significantly Pennsylvania, where filial support laws are now a primary collection tool for nursing homes, with decisions against adult children running to thousands of dollars in retroactive “support.” The article closes with concerns for policy makers in any state or country considering filial support as an alternative or supplement to public funding for long-term care or health care for the elderly.

Keywords: Filial, Family, Support, Responsibility, Poor, Poverty, Indigent, Needy, Parents, Children, Medicare, Medicaid, Elder, Nursing Home

JEL Classification: H51, H53, I30, I31, K00, K1, K32, K33, K42, L51, N30, P50

Suggested Citation

Pearson, Katherine C., Filial Support Laws in the Modern Era: Domestic and International Comparison of Enforcement Practices for Laws Requiring Adult Children to Support Indigent Parents (January 23, 2013). 20 Elder Law Journal 269 (2013); Penn State Law Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2079753

Katherine Pearson (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law ( email )

150 South College Street
Carlisle, PA 17013
United States

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