The Husband's Financial Responsibility after Divorce

Question #: 5692
Date Posted: 29-03-2004
<QUESTION>

My wife and I are coming to the logical end of our marriage. The only thing that keeps us together is the 2 two children.

My question is what are my financial commitments to her after divorce? She says they continue until she weds again. Is this the case? She wants the kids, and I cannot separate them from their mother. I will live nearby. Please advise me. As it is, I have a backlog of debt to her, where she forewent nafaqah, and I must repay it. Do I owe anything on top of this?

<ANSWER>
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

One of the rights of the wife on the husband is her financial support, which includes food, clothing, shelter, etc...

Allah Most High says:

“Let the man of means spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him.” (Surah al-Talaq, V.7)

This financial support (nafaqah) is binding upon the husband throughout the marriage if the wife gives herself to him or offers to. (al-Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar, 4/229)

If the marriage unfortunately came to an end, then the woman will receive this financial support throughout the waiting period (iddah). Once the post marital waiting period comes to an end, the obligation of Nafaqah no longer remains on the husband.

Allah Most High says:

“Let the woman live (in iddah) in the same style as you live, according to your means. Annoy them not, so as to restrict them. And if they carry (life in their wombs), then spend on them until they deliver their burden.” (Surah al-Talaq, V. 6)

It should be remembered that the wife will be entitled to this financial support (during the waiting period) regardless of whether the divorce was revocable or irrevocable. (Radd al-Muhtar, 3/609)

As far as the Nafaqah for the previous years is concerned, the Fuqaha mention that if a period passed, wherein the husband failed to provide financial support for his wife, the amount he should have paid her does not remain a debt on him.

However, there are two exceptions to this:

1) If both spouses arranged that it will be paid later,

2) The Judge (qadhi) ordered that it should be paid later.

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Durr al-Mukhtar:

“Financial support (nafaqah) will not become a debt except with judgment (qadha) or by agreement (radha).” (See: Radd al-Muhtar, 3/594)

Therefore, if you did not make an arrangement with your wife of paying the Nafaqah later, it will not be binding on you to pay her for the previous years. However, if you do, out of your own will, you will be rewarded.

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK