If they suffer privation, which means that they are unable to meet their basic needs on their own, parents are entitled to claim maintenance from their children. On the other hand, the difficult life situation caused by privation, linked with lack of self-sufficiency, is one of the reasons to claim social welfare benefits. Therefore, the same circumstances constitute the basis for financial support from both the family and the public social system. Because the laws do not explicitly define the order in which maintenance ought to be paid, this study attempts to establish the relation between the family’s and the State’s financial obligations. Based on the legal-dogmatic and analytical methods, this article presents: the essence of the right to maintenance and its forms in the Polish Social Welfare Act, the duties of the administrative bodies in bringing actions for maintenance, the consequences of failure in fulfilling maintenance obligations and of unjustified relinquishment of maintenance claims from family members. In the conclusion, the authors stress the primacy of family obligations over the State’s ones, and formulate recommendations for social welfare authorities as regards enforcing the fulfilment of family financial obligations.