Conflict of Laws – Status of Foreign Statute – Non-Recognition of Support Obligation

The State of California, Department of Mental Hygiene, brought suit in Texas against defendant, a California resident until his removal to Texas in 1954, to recover money expended by the state in support of defendant’s mother, an incompetent inmate of a California state institution since 1944. California law requires an adult son to contribute to his parents’ support while a similar provision of the Texas law imposes such an obligation on a parent but not on a child. In accordance with the applicable California statute of limitations, the state sued for the monthly payments which had accrued during the four-year period immediately preceding the filing of suit. The trial court’s judgment for the full amount claimed was reversed by the court of civil appeals, which held that the enforcement of the claim for the period after defendant moved to Texas would violate the public policy of Texas, and that the forum’s two-year statute of limitations applied to that portion of the claim maturing before defendant’s removal to Texas. On appeal, held, affirmed in part and reversed in part, three judges dissenting. California cannot by statute impose a continuing obligation on defendant which will be enforced for the period after the defendant became domiciled in Texas; but California may recover payments accruing while defendant was a California citizen and within four years of suit, as the California statute of limitations applies and maintenance of the suit with judgment for these accrued amounts is not against the public policy of Texas. California v. Copus, (Tex. 1958) 309 S.W. (2d) 227, cert. den. 356 U.S. 967 (1958).