What is divorce procedure in Nigeria?

What is divorce procedure in Nigeria? What do you need to know about courts, lawyers and other important issues? Read our step-by-step instruction on how to get a divorce.

divorce problems

The divorce is a very serious decision. The main thing you need to do is to take a moment and think it through again. However, if you are sure that you have done everything in order to save your family and nothing changed, our guide will help you to make your divorce procedure as smooth as possible.

Step 1. Determine what type of marriage you have

In Nigeria there are 2 types of marriage: statutory and customary. A statutory marriage is registered in a marriage registry and in some churches such as Catholic Church.  While customary marriages are contracted under the native law and custom of the bride’s paternal family, not the groom.
type of marriage

Step 2. Choose the court according to your type of marriage

A divorce in a customary marriage is initiated in a customary court. If it is a statutory marriage you’ll need to appeal to the High Court.
divorce court

Step 3. Choose a divorce lawyer according to your type of marriage

This is the most important step. The lawyer will help you with all the issues in the procedure and give you the best advice.

How to choose the best attorney? The first important factor is lawyer’s experience especially in your type of marriage. Secondly, assess his or her knowledge of law and whether it meets your requirements.  And what is more important, choose a lawyer that listens to you and puts your needs first, not his own.

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Step 4. Think what ground for divorce you have

There are 8 grounds for divorce in Nigeria which court will consider:

  • No consummation of the marriage.
  • Adultery.
  • Unreasonable conduct (rape, bestiality, habitual drunkard, sodomy,  murder of spouse, intent to or actual commission of serious bodily injury, inability to take care of spouse).
  • Abandonment ( must be at least one year prior to the filing of the divorce petition).
  • Separation (living apart for a continued period of two years prior to the filing of the divorce petition and no objection by the person you want to divorce from.
  • Separation (living apart for a continued period of three years prior to the filing of the divorce petition).
  • Failure to comply with a court order regarding marriage or the sexual rights or privilege of a marriage.
  • Death/Reason to believe spouse is dead

divorce grounds

Step 5. File your divorce petition

When all previous steps were taken it is time to do the last thing.  You need to file your divorce petition. After that the  court will make sure if the marriage meets the requirements for divorce based on the 8 aforementioned grounds.   Later on the petitioner will be granted the right to divorce. Other things such as settlement and child care will then be sorted out.
divorce petition

However, you always need to remember that divorce procedure requires a lot of energy and valuable time so you need to prepare yourself emotionally. It is also important to think about such things as planning your further living, saving money as well as making copies of the important documentation.

Watch the video in order to understand what African women think about the reasons for divorce

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