Virginia law that requires adult children to be financially responsible for their parents could be repealed

A proposal to repeal a Virginia law that requires adult children to be financially responsible for their parents is headed to the governor’s desk. 

Senator Adam Ebbin, who is behind the bill, says while it is rarely enforced it can be misused and abused.  

Those in violation of the law could face a fine of up to $500 or up to a year in prison. 

"Lots of adult children want to help their parents; they should do that because they want to not because they could spend a year in jail if they don’t." 

Sen. Ebbin tells FOX 5 there are real-life examples of when the law was taken advantage of in Virginia. 


"A brother who had run his mother’s finances into the ground, sued his sister for support of the mother," Ebbin said. "The law provided a forum for a stepfather to retaliate against his wife’s adult children for not supporting her when they didn’t want him to be her guardian." 

"We know that when the law was formed in the 1920s, that we didn’t have the same kind of social safety net that we have today; and now with Medicaid and Medicare and social security it’s less important that seniors rely on their adult children for support." 

Ebbin says 26 states still have parental support laws. 

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Joseph Tully, an attorney for more than two decades, says the idea behind the law was to have adult children be the ones to support their parents when they are no longer capable of supporting themselves and pay their debts. 

"We have lots of laws that are on the books that we don’t use," Tully said. "There’s only I think three states, and then Puerto Rico, that are actively using this law; one of them is Pennsylvania. In one of the recent cases in Pennsylvania, it was used against parents who had an adult son who had medical bills." 

There was some initial opposition to the bill by a lawmaker who said a provision of the current law is still being used in some bankruptcy cases. 

However, those concerns were addressed in the bill now headed to Governor Glenn Youngkin's desk.