Whose duty is it to support parents?

Fatwa, posted 4.22.2010
Religious Authority: 
Mufti Siraj Desai
Fatwa Question or Essay Title: 
Whose duty is it to support parents?

A father or mother or both, who cannot support themselves, become the responsibility of their children. In this responsibility the sons and daughters are equal. The duty of caring and providing expenses for parents must be shared equally by all the children, males and females. However, if any child is in total poverty and has difficulty in supporting even himself/herself, then such a child is automatically relieved of the duty. The burden of support then falls onto the remaining children. Otherwise, all sons and daughters must jointly execute this task. If there is a very wide gap between the earnings and income of the children then those who are more affluent will have to provide a greater share of the expenses. In other words, the son or daughter whose income differs vastly to that of the other siblings must contribute a larger proportion towards their parent's expense and maintenance. If the difference in the financial position of the siblings is not very substantial then all shall share expenses equally.