Must children help to pay for elderly parents in French care homes?

There are strict rules dictating when family support is required

Some residents cannot afford to cover all costs when living in a care home

Reader Question: I have heard that French law requires parents to give money to their children to help out if they are in financial hardship. Is it true that it also works in reverse? If so should this be entered in your tax declaration?

Yes, once a person’s children are adults, the obligation alimentaire rule which states that parents must provide for children when they are young also works in the other direction. 

A common situation is where people move into a retirement home but their pensions are insufficient to cover all the fees. 

The obligation also exists towards parents-in-law for married couples. 

It exists where the parents are struggling for daily essentials, such as food, accommodation, heating or healthcare, and should be proportional to the means of the children.

The obligation also exists towards a spouse, if any. 

If necessary children should help. Care homes or local authorities may contact children of residents to ask them to contribute to a parent’s fees. 

If help is not given voluntarily a family judge may be asked to rule. Exceptions to having to provide help can include situations where the parents had seriously neglected or abandoned their children or been violent towards them.

Note, grandchildren and even great grandchildren could also previously owned an obligation alimentaire, but a new law has removed this. 

It also clarified rules on when a child no longer owes such an obligation due to neglect/poor treatment by the parent; this includes when, as a child, they had to be taken away from the family home for their own protection.

Read more: How to get help to pay for care home fees in France

In 2022,  The Connexion covered a story of a British woman charged €100,000 in care home fees for her father in a care home in France, even though she had not seen him in 50 years. 

Read more: Appeal over care bill for estranged father in France: ruling awaited

Income tax declaration

An official 2023 study found that a third of people in care homes who receive some aide sociale à l’hébergement receive around €270 per month from their family.

If you provide aide alimentaire to a parent you can claim a deduction in relation to this when you submit your income tax declaration (use box 6GU). 

The amount must be realistic in terms of the parent’s needs and your ability to pay.

The person being helped in this way should declare the sum in box 1AO.

Read more: French 'village' alternative for retirees who do not want nursing home