Speaker: PROFESSOR KATHERINE C. PEARSON, PENN STATE DICKINSON LAW
Filial responsibility laws ( filial support laws, filial piety laws) are laws in the United States that impose a duty, usually upon adult children, for the support of their impoverished parents or other relatives. In some cases the duty is extended to other relatives. Such laws may be enforced by governmental or private entities and may be at the state or national level. While most filial responsibility laws contemplate civil enforcement, some include criminal penalties for adult children or close relatives who fail to provide for family members when challenged to do so. The key concept is impoverished, as there is no requirement that the parent be aged.
For close to twenty years, Katherine C. Pearson’s academic focus in research and writing has been on laws and policies connected to aging. She is Professor of Law and Arthur L. and Sandra S. Piccone Faculty Scholar at Penn State Dickinson Law School. She graduated with her J.D. from the University of Miami and her B.A. from the University of Arizona.
Professor Pearson served for more than ten years as director of Penn State’s Elder Protection Clinic (2001 to 2012), where students provided pro-bono representation of older adults on cutting edge legal issues. Today, Professor Pearson continues to use that important student-involved, practical experience to inform her writing and research. She is the author of articles and book chapters on long-term care, financing issues, and filial obligations, and is the co-author of The Law of Financial Abuse and Exploitation (Bisel 2011)—a book about protection of vulnerable persons from financial exploitation.
Professor Pearson has served in positions on national and state organizations for attorneys specializing in elder law, including the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and she has chaired the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Elder Law Section. During 2013 and 2014, Professor Pearson served as a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Elder Law Task Force at the invitation of Justice Debra Todd to examine issues of guardianships, abuse and neglect, and access to justice for older Pennsylvanians. The Task Force issued a report with 125 recommendations addressing guardianship and fiduciary duty issues in November 2014.
A former Fulbright Scholar (U.K., Queens University Belfast, 2010), Professor Pearson’s work includes international, comparative analysis of laws, and policies affecting older persons, including work as an international research consultant in the U.K. and Northern Ireland to promote better systems for safeguarding and adult social care. Professor Pearson’s international work took her to Cuba with a group of students for an embedded course on Introduction to Cuban Legal Systems in January 2016.