Filial Responsibility States

What happens when a person who is in need of long-term care is unable to pay for it? More than half of the states in our country have filial responsibility laws — laws that can make adult children financially responsible for their parents’ medical bills and other necessities of life when the parents do not have the means to pay on their own. The extent of this responsibility varies by state. Currently, Virginia has filial responsibility laws; DC and Maryland do not.

The 30 states that have filial responsibility laws are as follows: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, 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.

Below are citations to the actual statutes:

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. Repealed: Maryland Code Ann., Fam.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).

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.

Major Source: 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).