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What are my obligations to a father who was abusive?

What am I legally or financially obligated to do? He is starting to forget to pay his taxes and other bills. He is still verbally and emotionally abusive to my mother who is very codependent and passive.
Status: Open    Jun 04, 2015 - 04:50 PM

Relationships, Elder Law

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5 answers

Expert Answers

Jul 10, 2015 - 09:49 AM

Legal obliglations and family obligations are distinct and separate. Legally, you have no obligation to a father regardless of whether he was abusive. If your sense of family responsbility directs you to become involved, limit your involvement to that point where you become personally harmed. Prioritize preventing harm to your mother. This may mean involving a local agency or, if the situation warrants, the police.


Jun 23, 2015 - 02:06 PM

I am not an expert but thought I would post a response as a concerned social worker. My suggestion would be to contact your local goverment agency that handles Adult Protective Services. They should be able to review the details anonymously and advise you of any legal responsibilities you may have. Also, consider any regrets you may have to live with if you decide not to do anything. At a minimum, you could offer your parents resources recommended by social services regarding financial planning and individual/couples counseling. I hope you are able to find some answers.

Jul 05, 2015 - 05:10 AM

I'm in your exact same position. My father was horrible to me, my mother, and my sister. I'm in the process of finding him an assisted-living situation. I think you feel obligated to some extent or the question of what you should do wouldn't be an issue. You have to take care of YOU. Your father probably stole a good deal of your childhood. Don't let him take away any more of your life. Listen to your heart.

Feb 20, 2016 - 09:48 AM

Very good question. My FIL (father in law) is a 74yo unacknowledged alcoholic who actually has the Wet Brain diagnosis. To make it easier to understand, he essentially drank his way into Dementia. Experts could definitely expound here on my description, but I think that gives a quick snapshot of the issue.

He made my husband and sister in law live in Hell growing up. My MIL did leave him. He moved across the country and was extremely spotty about contact. When he did call, he was in a drunken rage and that upset my husband for days.

Lo and behold, in 2011 he wants to move back to CA. His kids, with trepidation, support him in this. He wanted to live with one of the kids, he didn't care which. That idea was completely vetoed and they moved him to first Independent, then Assisted Living. We took him to medical appts, paid the bills from his funds, etc. In spite of the past, my husband and SIL made many good faith efforts. They exhausted themselves, trying to make life good for their Dad.

From August of 2011 to early 2014, there were nothing but terrible problems. While in Independent Living he bought suitcases of beer every other day and lots of bottles of hard liquor. Only quit drinking entirely in 2014. He assaulted multiple residents, and physically fought with staff. There were worse incidents than I'm representing here. He was kicked out of several facilities, causing stress to all of us. Each time HE represented himself as the victim. It got so old.

So the questions did arise -- how much did his kids owe him? By 2014 he graduated to Memory Care level needs. My husband and SIL decided on no more contact -- bills were paid, supplies were delivered, but no more visits. His behaviors and acting out in Memory Care always seemed to boil down to: "Where are my worthless kids?" Even when told that by staff, my husband and SIL stayed strong and did not resume contact.

Now he is on Hospice, and I would say he is in mid to late Level 7 on the Alzheimer's progression scale. There are no friends who visit. There is still no contact whatsoever. My husband says he honestly can't wait for this to be over, and I can't blame him. We both acknowledge that his father dying is only one step toward recovery from what was a sad childhood. In hindsight, I'm extremely grateful for my own quiet upbringing.

I'm not sure if my answer here helps the person who posted the question. I work in Healthcare myself and I've found that many family members have very similar memories and experiences to my husband and his sister. They are asking the same questions -- what do I ultimately owe this person in light of bad growing up experiences?

Feb 22, 2016 - 12:14 AM

While you may not be obligated financially you should ask yourself what would you want if you were in his shoes. A lot of times we don't know the whole story of the reason why he was abusive. I'm not saying that he was right but as kids we don't really know the whole truth. Also that probably was the only way he knew how to parent. Maybe a form of depression or financial problems. and the pressure was on him as a man or pride of what might have been a failure somewhere. Your mother could have grab you guys and left him, but again we don't know the whole story why she didn't. Whatever the reason, why stoop to that same level. What about forgiving? He has to answer to God for everything he has done. Don't put a stain on your report to God. Humble yourself and be forgiving & do what you would want your kids to do for you. You will feel much better if you help his last years be happy. Last but not least. Most of the time a husband work & worry all of his life & has to catch bills and problems & littl love and appreciation. Sometimes families forget they need love, hugs and rest. Love him & take care of him. Listen, as for your husband I doubt if he would let you put his mother or father out and if he truly love you he would understand & help you. Yes we have to live but don't do it selfishly. My prayers are with you.

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