Question:
Salam Aleikum sheikh,This is regarding my close relative who is an elderly woman who has been separated from her husband aprox. twenty years. Her husband who is remarried did financially support her but has stopped since seven years back. He does not want to divorce her or see her or talk to her. My question is: Is this marriage null and void according to the Islamic teachings? Jazak Allah

Answer:

Praises are to Allah, and peace be upon prophet Muhammed.

Walaikum salam wrb honorable sister, According to the Islamic law,
the marriage of your close relative is not automatically nullified, she
and her husband can still be together, continuing by the original marriage
contract. If your close relative wants to finish the marriage, she has the
right to “khul”, dissolve the marriage on two grounds:

1. The prolonged absence of her husband, without a just reason.
2. The lack of support from her husband.

She would go to an Islamic judge, who would “divorce” her. If
there is no Islamic judge, she can ask the imam to perform this
task. If the laws of the land prevent this, it is excused because
of compulsion.

If she does a khul (annulment), she and her husband can still get
back together afterwards, but would have to perform a new marriage
contract and mahr.

It is incumbant on everyone to obey the laws of Allah and his messenger
when it comes to family, and not let “feelings” cause one to sway away
from the commandments of Allah. It is good to go to the imam and the people
of knowledge and ask and learn what the Islamic laws are about marriage.
One should listen to what the imam says wholeheartedly, not jump from
one imam to another, searching for one that will suit their fancy.

And Allah knows.

Shaikh Sajid