Wife not obliged to care for step-children
Fatwa No: 317941

  • Fatwa Date:19-3-2016 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 10, 1437
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I have six children and my husband has four from his ex-wife. My husband is a guest in my home as he works out. I get to see him for a weekend once a month or two weeks every three months at most. His ex-wife has sent their adult kids to live with me without asking our permission, they just showed up one day. Well, I guess it is their fathers house. I now have ten children in the house. I find this overwhelming as my husband is not here with me. They do as they please as I am not their mother and cannot tell them what to do. His ex-wife says that she cannot handle them. What are my rights, if any? Must I just practice patience, is it my responsibility to look after my husband's kids, do I have a choice, even if my husband agrees for them to stay? The ex-wife had custody when they divorced, but that ended once they turned 18. They say that they want to study, but I had already paid for study fees for them about which we later found out that they never attended the classes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Wassalaam.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

You are not obliged to accept that your husband's children live with you in the same house, and you are also not obliged to take care of them unless you willingly choose to do so. Please refer to fataawa 84420 and 25707.

You are entitled to live in a separate house without having to live with your husband's children or family, and your husband has no right to force you to accept accommodating his children with you in the same house or to take care of them. Obedience to the husband is not without restrictions or limits; rather, it is restricted to the duties and implications of marriage, as the scholars stated. The Hanafi scholar Ibn Nujaym  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, "The wife is only obliged to obey her husband with regards to the duties and implications of marriage in particular, and she is not obliged to obey him in other than that, especially if it causes her harm." Please, refer to fatwa 133365.

Taking care of your husband's children and tending to the needs of his family are not among the duties and implications of marriage; the wife is not obliged to do whatever is not among the duties or implications of marriage, even if she is able to do so; so she is not obliged to do so in case of inability for a greater reason.

We advise you to try to reach a mutual understanding with your husband regarding his children and to wisely do what serves your best interests and theirs. The fact that they are already grownups, as seems from your question, makes it easier as they are able to be independent.

Undoubtedly, you will be rewarded for helping them with regards to their studies. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {...and whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allaah. Indeed, Allaah of what you do, is Seeing.} [Quran 2:110] However, if the situation is as you described and they did not attend their classes and you want to help them in the future, you are advised to consult with their father so that it would be done under his supervision and he could make sure that they attend the classes and benefit from them as due.

Allaah knows best.

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