Filial Support and Family Solidarity
Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee.
- Exodus 20:12.
The concept of filial responsibility has existed for many centuries. Although the origins of this moral tenet will probably never be identified with any degree of precision, the origin of the legal responsibility to provide for one's parents is more readily traceable.
Statutes which presently exist in a majority of American states are essentially identical to the "responsible relatives" statute found in the seventeenth century Elizabethan Poor Law. Prior to the enactment of this comprehensive statutory scheme to deal with the problems of the poor, there was no legal duty imposed on children to provide for their indigent parents' support.
The responsible relatives statutes embrace more than merely the child-parent relationship. They are concerned also with the duties of Parent to child, husband to wife, and wife to husband.
Additionally, some impose duties beyond this immediate family sphere, extending the obligation of support to grandparents and grandchildren and even brothers and sisters of the indigent. The focus of this article, however, is on the legal responsibility of children to contribute to the support of their parents and the wisdom of the imposition of this duty.
In a nutshell, YES YOU CAN BE HELD RESPONSIBLE & SUED for the debts of not only your spouse, but also your brother, sister, father and mother...maybe even your grandparents or grandchildren...depending on how liberal the state is that you live in! Watch out citizens of California.
You may be set, have no debt, and all your bills paid....but what about the "Black sheep" entrust that if a lawyer can find the deep pockets...he'll go for them, especially when the possiblility that your relative may end up on public support is involved.
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