Fatwa ID: 87748
Title: Spouse's Right to COVID-19 Relief/Stimulus Check/Payment
Category: Financial Transactions
Scholar: AMJA Resident Fatwa Committee
Date: 04/08/2020

Question

As part of the COVID-19 relief/stimulus package, the U.S. government is issuing checks (individual payments) for approximately $1,200 to each of its qualified citizens. Is it permissible for me to keep my own check, or is it my husband’s right to keep it?


Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise is due to Allah, and may His peace and blessings be upon His Messenger, his family, his Companions, and those who followed.

If the funds (from the government) are designated to be given to each spouse individually, then each spouse is entitled to that (their own individual check/payment). Each spouse has his/her own independent financial inviolability and autonomy, and it is not permissible to take the wealth of any Muslim unless they give it willingly and freely.

So what is designated for the husband, it belongs to him alone; he spends it on his family and however he wishes, in that which is permissible.

And what is designated for the wife, it belongs to her alone; she is free to spend it however she wishes, in that which is permissible. It would be preferred for her to use it to ease the situation for her husband and children, especially in these difficult times.

And as for (any payments) that are designated for the children of the household, if the father is not in need of the money, he should set it aside and save it for the child; otherwise, he should spend it on the needs of the family.

But if the payment (from the government) is designated for the family unit as a whole, then it should be placed in a joint account to be used in covering the expenses of the family.

The two spouses should mutually consult one another in these matters in a kindly and acceptable manner. We certainly should not allow a trivial worldly acquisition to be a source of dispute between spouses.

And Allah the Exalted knows best.