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When Can a Father Stop Providing for His Children?

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question: I want to know how long is a father responsible for providing for children. If a father is shrugging responsibility towards his children and citing that the children’s mother had done injustice to him, is it justified? What are the conditions under which the father can stop taking responsibility for his children?


Assalamu alaykum,

Thank you for your question.

A father’s responsibility

A man must provide for his children the basics of food, clothing, shelter, and basic Islamic education, as evidenced in the Qur’an.  Please see the details here in full:

Shrugging off responsibility

If a man claims that the mother of his children has done some injustice to him, he would have to be more specific. If she cut ties with him and ran away with the children, then yes, he would no longer be responsible for them. But if the injustice was something like the mother disrespecting the father, then his obligation of providing for them is not lifted. Doing so would be sinful.

Child support

If the parents are divorced, I recommend that the matter be taken to a local court to ensure that the father pays child support. If the parents are not divorced, I am not sure what course can be taken to make him pay his dues. Perhaps one can have a third party speak to him, or you can discuss the matter with a counselor or ask a family lawyer. It is obligatory for him to seek employment to provide child support. (Kifayat al-Akhyar 525; Mughni al-Muhtaj 5/185)

If the father is simply impoverished and unable to earn, perhaps he, or his wife, can request zakat funds or speak to a local masjid. May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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