What Are the Financial Responsibilities of a Man Regarding His Children From a First Marriage?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salam alaykum,

A man marries and has 2 daughters from this marriage but later divorces this first wife – taking no financial responsibility or responsibility of any sort for the two daughters. He then marries a second wife and has three daughters from this second marriage. Are the daughters from the first marriage Islamically eligible for a share in the father’s wealth/will although he never supported them after divorce from the mother?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Yes, the basis is that the father is responsible for the financial support (nafaqa) of his children.

Allah Most High says, “and clothing and maintenance must be borne by the father in a fair manner. ” [2.233]

What is Financial Support (nafaqa) in this Context?

The required maintenance or support is that of food, clothing and shelter, as is the case with all such support when mentioned in the works of law. Here, it should be sufficient to fulfil their needs, and commensurate with the state of the father.

Who Must it be Given To?

Before they become adult (baligh), the father must support his children whether they are male or female. Thereafter, he is responsible for the financial support of his female children until they marry, upon which the duty transfers to her husband. (Details with respect to the male children can be given upon request.)

However, if, after she becomes an adult, she is able to earn a living by means of a safe, dignified job, then she could be sought to support herself through her own income. In the case that she does so, yet her income is insufficient, the father would need to supplement it so that it fulfils the remainder of her needs.

What if the Father Does Not Pay?

In a traditional setting, the wife would have raised her case to the Islamic court from the moment her husband left, and thereafter, the judge would have ruled that the father must pay, even if he doesn’t do so immediately.

But in the absence of such a system, the mother can forward her case to the local authorities if they will be able to assist her. Yet, even if it cannot be legally enforced by the courts, the father would still be sinful for his neglect of the financial rights of his children, and thus the duty to repay the wife for her expenditure upon the children would remain.

As for the amount she can claim from him, having records of payments would be ideal, yet in the absence of such paperwork, it is possible that she could use the measure of something similar to the “child’s benefit allowance” in order to determine an approximate figure.

What if the Mother was at Fault?

Nevertheless, if the mother was at fault in this scenario, by having taken the children and severed ties with the father, for example, then the matter would be different, and it is possible that she would not be due anything.

The underlying assumption in such a case would be that she decided to support the children on her own and without the father’s wealth, and that he could not have paid even if he wanted to do so. Therefore, she wouldn’t have a right to make a claim later in life, particularly as the basis is that there is no make up [payments] (qada’) for overdue financial maintenance as it is not considered to be a legal debt.

[Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar; Ibn `Abidin, Minhat al-Khaliq `ala al-Bahr al-Ra’iq; Qadri Pasha, al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya, with Abyani’s Commentary]

Please also see: Rights of Children in Detail

And Allah alone knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Should I Support Financially the Illegitimate Child of My Deceased Father?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

My father has passed away. I came to know that he fathered an illegitimate child with another woman.

Should I inform my family of the situation? Is there any financial obligation on me towards this woman and her child?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

May God have mercy on your father and keep your family together.

Financial Obligations to this Family

The son is not legally considered your father’s son, in that he is not attributed to him for purposes of inheritance and marriage. It follows that you do not have any legal obligation of financial support towards him, or his mother.

Beyond strictly legal obligations, however, it would remain a praiseworthy act to provide financial support if you are able to, especially if your father had been doing so, as cutting off a person’s livelihood is blameworthy.

It is reported that Abu Bakr took an oath to cut off the support he had previously provided for Mistah, a companion who he understood to have participated in spreading rumours about his daughter, ‘Aisha (may Allah be be pleased with them). However, he understood the verse that was subsequently revealed, “Those who have been graced with bounty and plenty should not swear that they will no longer give to kinsmen, the poor, those who emigrated in God’s way; let them pardon and forgive. Do you not wish that God should forgive you? God is most forgiving and merciful [Qur’an; 24.22], as enjoining him to keep up the financial support, despite the transgression.

Moreover, one does not know the reason for the many ways in which God provides for a person. It may be that the reason that God continues to bless you financially because of the support you offer this family. This is the advice that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave to a man who used to work to support both himself and his unemployed brother [Tirmidhi].

Finally, even though this family isn’t legally recognized for specific purposes, many people still consider there to be some qualitative affinity or relationship between the two families. This can afford you, or others in similar circumstances, to continue to provide assistance if able to do so.

Exposing the Misdeeds of another Person

You are not obligated to inform anyone about your father’s affair, unless there are foreseeable ramifications arising out of this that directly involve others. One needs to assess their family and social and legal circumstances to ascertain whether informing others is necessary.

Generally speaking, if one is not required to, exposing another’s faults is blameworthy. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “Whoever covers up the faults of another, God will cover up his faults on the Day of Resurrection” [Bukhari, Muslim].

Shuaib Ally