Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 3 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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Does a divorced woman and her child inherit from her ex-husband's property in the event of his death?

Does a divorced woman and her child inherit from her ex-husband's property in the event of his death?

Answer

Children’s right to inheritance from either parent is not affected in anyway by the severance of the marital relationship through divorce. Thus, when divorce occurs and one of the parents dies, children inherit from the deceased parent in the same way as if the marriage was not dissolved. Nor are the children’s right to inheritance affected by who the custodial parent is. This is because the parent/child relationship is permanent and cannot be affected by the relationship between their parents.

The claim of a divorced wife to inherit her ex-husband is affected by several factors. We can say in short that if divorce takes place when the man is in sound health and if the idda [waiting period] of the divorced wife [approximately three months] has elapsed before her ex-husband’s death, she does not have claim to any share in his estate. If, on the other hand, the husband dies during the post-divorce idda, the woman in this case has the same right as an un-divorced wife, provided the divorce is revocable i.e. wherein a man can revoke the divorce without the need for a new marriage contract or mahr [dowry].

It may happen that a man divorces his wife when he is ill and suspects that he is soon to die. His purpose is to get rid of his wife so that she may not inherit him with the other heirs. If this is the case, and the man actually dies as a result of that illness, his divorced wife is entitled to inherit him, whether or not her idda has expired at the actual time of his death. This is because Islam does not sanction injustice of any sort. The man’s action in this case is an act of injustice by which he aims to disinherit his wife. Islam does not allow anyone to exclude another from their right to inherit. God has made known His ruling of how inheritance should be divided among the deceased’s heirs and no one may devise any method in order to usurp the rights of any heir in favor of another. Anyone who attempts this is guilty of a grave sin.
 

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