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Steps to an Islamic Divorce

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Child Custody
In the event of divorce, children often bear the most painful consequences. Islamic law takes their needs into account and makes sure that they are cared for.

The financial support of any children — both during marriage or after divorce — rests solely with the father. This is the children's right upon their father, and courts have the power to enforce child support payments, if necessary. The amount is open for negotiation and should be in proportion with the husband's financial means.

The Quran advises the husband and wife to consult each other in a fair manner regarding their children's future after divorce (2:233). This verse specifically holds that infants who are still nursing may continue to breastfeed until both parents agree on the period of weaning through "mutual consent and counsel." This spirit should define any co-parenting relationship.

Islamic law stipulates that physical custody of the children must go to a Muslim who is in good physical and mental health, and is in the best position to meet the children's needs. Different jurists have established various opinions of how this might best be done. Some have ruled that custody is awarded to the mother if the child is under a certain age, and to the father if the child is older. Others would allow older children to express a preference. Generally, it is recognized that young children and girls are best cared for by their mother.

Since there are differences of opinion among Islamic scholars about child custody, one might find variations in local law. In all cases, however, the main concern is that the children are cared for by a fit parent who can meet their emotional and physical needs.

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