Can Fillial Responsibility Foster Family Restoration?

Families operate under a type of mutual and reciprocal responsibility. Parents are responsible for their children, supporting them in every way. Should adult children also be responsible for their parents? This concept is known as filial responsibility, and could be a vehicle to restore some families, but many states are turning to it as a solution to budgetary problems in elder care.

Filial responsibility laws have their origins in antiquity, most notably the Elizabethan Poor Relief Act of 1601. This Act stipulated that “the Father and Grandfather, and the Mother and Grandmother, and the Children of every poor, old, blind, lame, and impotent Person or other poor Person not able to work, being of a sufficient Ability, shall, at their own Charges, relieve and maintain every such poor Person.” This tradition carried over from England to the American colonies and laid the foundation for the current filial responsibility laws.

Currently 30 states have filial responsibility laws on the books. These laws differ from state to state but generally describe the responsibility of children to financial support their indigent parents. For example, the Virginia Code § 22-88 states:
“It shall be the joint and several duty of all persons eighteen years of age or over, of sufficient earning capacity or income, after reasonably providing for his or her own immediate family, to assist in providing for the support and maintenance of his or her mother or father, he or she being then and there in necessitous circumstances.”
While Virginia limits these responsibilities to the children of the indigent, other states impose a broader duty. In "Picking up the tab for Mom & Dad: A Look a Filial Responsibility Laws" Patrick C. Murphrey discusses this important topic, and inquires "Would the strict enforcement of state filial responsibility laws bring solvency to government entitlement programs?"

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