Do Children Have to Support a Destitute Parent?

Categories :: Senior Citizens

"Filial responsibility" is the idea that children have a duty to care for parents.  Historically, filial responsibility laws were far more common, and although Maryland has a filial responsibility law it is rarely enforced and may be overridden by other Maryland laws. 

Maryland’s filial responsibility law provides that if a destitute parent is in the state and has an adult child who has or is able to earn sufficient means, the adult child may not neglect or refuse to provide the destitute parent with food, shelter and clothing.  A "destitute parent" is a parent who has no means of subsistence and cannot be self-supporting due to old age or mental or physical infirmity.  The destitute parent can file a written complaint with the State's Attorney. Read the law: MD Code Family Law Sections 13-101 – 13-109

Despite the above law, Maryland bars nursing homes from holding children responsible for parent’s nursing home bills unless the children agreed in writing to be financially responsible. 

One scenario where Maryland’s filial laws may come into play is when a parent is under the care of a state psychiatric hospital.  If the parent is under age 65, the state can use the law to get the children to reimburse the state for the parent’s care.

 

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Edited by Mary Jo Broussard Speier, Esq., Maryland State Bar Association, Section on Elder Law and Disability Rights

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