It’s hard to imagine what it’d feel like to get stuck with your parents’ nursing home bill, but for residents in more than half the country, it could be reality. Thanks to something called a ‘filial support law,’ adult children have to foot the bill for long-term care facilities if their parents are financially unable. The law’s active in 29 states.
John Pittas, 47, knows this all too well. Pittas is fighting a $93,000 lawsuit filed by his mother’s Allentown, Pa. nursing home, ABC New’s Susanna Kim reports.
Under state law, he’s on the hook for her six-month stay at the facility and the outlook so far isn’t bright. Pittas lost his appeal on Monday, in which he argued he wouldn’t be able to cover the bill on his $85,000 salary.
How to fight filial law
Proving financial strain. If you can prove you can’t afford to pay, courts will sometimes excuse consumers from the law. Pittas argued a judge wrongfully determined he could afford the bills, without taking into account his daily expenses.
Abandonment. If a parent abandoned their son or daughter when they were a child then the filial law may not apply, Craig Reeves, an attorney with the National Academy of Elderly Law Attorneys, told the New York Times,
“Unclean Hands.” In legal jargon the “unclean hands” defence is used when one party has acted unethically in relation to the case, according to Law.com. Reeves points out that in some states, if the parents have wronged their child, or acted unethically towards them, this too may give them a way out of supporting their parents.
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