Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Responsibility for the Elderly

The subject of so-called "filial responsibility" laws is a fascinating one.  It is always sure to provoke an interesting class discussion.  A few casebooks in Family Law include a case; most include a note discussing the issue and citing one or two articles.

The New York Times has an article today here by Jane Gross.  Gross conveniently included a discussion of recent articles as well as a pdf file with citations of the current state laws; she writes:

So it fascinated me to learn that in 30 states, (PDF of 30-state list) adult children are legally responsible, at least on paper, to pay for necessities like food, clothing, shelter and medical attention for indigent parents. These statutes, known as filial responsibility laws, are modeled on the Elizabethan Poor Laws of 1601, which made blood relatives the primary source of support for family members, the elderly included. Public assistance was available only as a last resort.

Law Prof Katherine Pearson of Penn State Dickinson School of Law provides some of her recent articles on filial responsibility on her faculty webpage here.  She also has list of the filial responsibility statutes, helpfully providing hyperlinks to the statutes as well as citations to cases.


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