The dowry should ideally be paid fully in advance. It should be a sum that is easy for the husband to pay.
It is permissible, however, to postpone all or some of the dowry until a specified or unspecified period of time.
The postponed dowry is definitely considered a debt. If a specific time is given, then the dowry must be paid on or before that time. If the time is unspecified, then it does not become due until the two part company by way of divorce, annulment of the marriage, or death.
May Allah bless you with a happy marital life.
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