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More Filial Responsibility Cases are Ending Up in Court

Filial responsibility laws obligate adult children to pay for their indigent parents’ food, clothing, shelter and medical needs. When the children fail to do so, nursing homes and government agencies can bring legal action to recover the cost of caring for the parents. Not only can they sue you for the money, but in some states adult children can go to jail if they fail to provide filial support.

Currently 30 states, including Virginia, have filial responsibility laws. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, 21 states allow a civil court action to obtain financial support or cost recovery, 12 states impose criminal penalties on children who do not support their parents, and three states allow both civil and criminal actions.

It used to be that many states rarely enforced their filial support laws, except in the most gruesome cases of neglect. Recently, mor