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Does Khula cancel out a previous court ruling for the payment of nafaqah?

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of Shari’ah say regarding the following scenario. The courts had ruled that I would receive nafaqah (maintenance) for the three years which my husband did not pay me. After this, I applied for a khula which the court also approved. Am I still entitled to the nafaqah which was withheld from me after the courts had granted the khula?

Answer:

The nafaqah which has been withheld from one’s wife will be considered an unpaid debt. A debt can only be removed in two ways.

  1. Once it has been paid
  2. If the lender themselves cancel the debt.

In the case of khula, the dowry which the wife has received is returned to the husband. The wife will not engage in any marital relations, receive any nafaqah during her iddah (waiting period), or receive payment of any outstanding dowry. Any previous debts are not affected or overruled by khula.

The nafaqah which was withheld from the wife prior to this is now a debt which will not be revoked due to khula. The debt will only cease once it has been paid off or if the wife cancels it.

For these reasons, the outstanding nafaqah which the court has ruled in favour of, will not be cancelled due to khula taking place, unless the wife herself waives the debt.

And Allah knows best.

Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari
Director of British Fatwa Council