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How To Divorce In Nigeria: 2022 Procedure

Divorce, often known as dissolution of marriage, is the dissolution of a marriage before either spouse dies. It can also be seen as the dissolution of a marriage by an official court order. In present times, divorces have become very common not just in Nigeria but in countries all over the world.

Divorce is an emotionally exhausting and traumatic experience. However, in the vast majority of cases, the procedure of actually filing for divorce is pretty simple. Although the particular laws differ by state, you usually begin the process by submitting a petition to the court with the help of your lawyer. In most cases, you might not need to go to court if you and are partner agree amicably.

However, if you and your spouse are having trouble communicating or agreeing on topics like child custody and support or how to divide your property, then you need to go to court. How to divorce in Nigeria is not very different from other countries. The court will grant your divorce request if it meets Nigeria’s divorce grounds.

Nigeria Divorce Grounds

According to the Matrimonial Causes Act (MCA), there can only be one reason for a court to dissolve a marriage, and that reason is that the marriage has irreversibly broken down. Nonetheless, according to Section 15 (2) (a) (h) of the Act, there are eight different types of breakdowns or classes of breakdowns. Below is the extract;

1.       That the respondent has persistently and willfully refused to consummate the marriage;

2.       That since the marriage the Respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent

3.       That since the marriage the respondent has behaved in such a manner that the petitioner can’t reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;

4.       That the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a constant period of at least one year immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;

5.       That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a constant period of a minimum of 2 years immediately preceding the presentation of the respondent as well as the petition doesn’t object to a decree being granted;

6.       That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a constant period of a minimum of 3 years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;

7.       That the other party to the marriage has, for a period of not less than one year failed to comply with a decree or perhaps restitution of conjugal rights made under that Act;

8.       That the other party to the marriage has been absent from the petitioner for time that is such and in circumstances that are such as to provide good grounds for presuming that he or perhaps she’s dead.

Apparently, the reasons for grounds for divorce are broad enough to include the majority of the difficulties that couples commonly bring up in divorce proceedings. However, establishing any of them in court may be extremely difficult. A party considering divorce should speak with a lawyer to explore the exact reasons for the divorce and to learn more about the many types of marriage breakdowns and how they apply to specific situations.

Nigeria Divorce Process

Below are the processes involved in divorcing in Nigeria;

First Step

When your lawyer files a petition for divorce in the High Court, the divorce process formally begins. This collection of paperwork essentially explains your case: who you’re married to, where you got married, how long you’ve been married, why you want a divorce, what you want from the divorce, and any supporting proof. This is where the lawyer starts to make money. They will create and file the relevant court documents, as well as ensuring that your petition is presented logically and professionally. If you filed the petition, you are known as the petitioner, and your spouse is known as the respondent.

Second Step

After the document is submitted to the court, it will be assigned a file number, and the contents of your petition will be provided to your spouse and his or her lawyer. Your spouse will have a specific number of days to respond to your petition; this varies depending on which state in Nigeria your petition is filed in. If your spouse also desires a divorce, the content of your response will vary.

Third Step

After your husband responds to your petition, the court hears appeals in open court. If any witnesses are needed to confirm any evidence, they will be asked to testify in court.

Fourth Step

If the judge agrees that a divorce should be granted, he or she will issue a ‘decree nisi,’ which means the marriage will be dissolved. The decree nisi, on the other hand, does not imply that it has been dissolved; you must wait another three months for the decree nisi to become a “decree absolute.”

Fifth and Last Step

The court has the authority to award custody of any children to either spouse, as well as make orders for the payment of maintenance (for both the spouse and the children) and the settlement of any marital property.

Bottom Line

Finally, having a divorce is the saddest thing that can happen to any meaningful and loving marriage, thus we must do everything we can to stop this unfortunate event from happening to us. Divorce is frequently the result of two people who were previously incredibly close, if not soul mates, becoming estranged. Due to the necessity to maintain family values and the children of the marriage, Nigerian laws are more hesitant to divorce. As a result, no significant efforts have been made over the years to reform Nigerian divorce rules to make the procedure more convenient.