Child Maintenance and Obligations – An Overview

This fatwā seeks to clarify the sharīʿah perspective on child maintenance, including who the
obligation falls upon and the nature of the obligation itself.

The fatwa will examine three areas concerning child maintenance:
1. Determining who is responsible and for how long
2. The level of maintenance needed
3. The impact of external financial support on the obligation

The fatwa begins by illustrating that it is the sole responsibility of the father to provide for the son’s food, lodging and clothing, until he is able to provide for himself or reaches the age of legal majority.
The father is made responsible for the maintenance of his daughter until her marriage, after which,
the responsibility falls upon the husband. The fatwa, thereafter, examines instances in the case of the son’s maintenance where the responsibility upon the father extends beyond the age of legal majority.

The fatwa examines the nature of the obligation explaining maintenance to be an amount that is sufficient to cover the child’s basic needs, as determined by the needs of the child and not the financial situation of the father.

The fatwa concludes by stating that the receipt and ownership of social security benefits by either of the parents does not alter the requirement upon the father to provide for the child’s basic needs.
However, the receipt and ownership of benefits by the child will devolve maintenance obligations upon the child’s benefits before the father is obliged to meet the same.

For a complete discussion on this topic, please refer to the accompanying research paper here.