How to Process/ Get/ File for Divorce in Nigeria

Marriage is meant to foster a lasting relationship between two intending couples.

However, for one reason or the other, things might not work out as planned and you have a change of heart. Then the issue of divorce sets in.

Divorce should however be the last resort.

You might wonder, if I want it, how do I file for divorce in Nigeria?

Let us go through step by step:

Filing a petition

The first step according to law requires the filing of a petition by a party to the marriage for a decree of dissolution of the marriage presented to the court. But the marriage must have broken down irretrievably.

This means that the petitioner and respondent have reached a point where they can no longer bear to live with one another as lawfully wedded husband and wife.

The court upon receipt of the petition will verify that one or more of the following applies to the married party:

  • That either party has willfully and persistently refused to consummate the marriage
  • That either of the married party has committed adultery and the partner can no longer tolerate his/her partner
  • That either party can no longer tolerate the behavior of the second party
  • That either of the married party has been abandoned for up to one year from the day the petition was filed
  • That both parties have been living apart for a period of two or three years from the day the petition was filed and have no objection with regards to the dissolution
  • That either party has failed to comply with restitution of conjugal rights for at least a year
  • That either party of the married couple has been missing for such a long time and has thus been presumed dead.
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These are the conditions required by law before filing a petition for divorce.

Meeting the Court Requirement

After filing a petition, the court will also carry out an assessment of the situation and determine if the petitioner has been afflicted with a number of situations.

At this stage, the court would however ensure that one or more of the conditions stated above have been met by the petitioner.

The scenarios that are considered for a divorce include cases in which the second party or respondent has been in involved in the following:

  • Rape, sodomy, or bestiality
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Frequent convictions for crime in respect of which the respondent has been sentenced and imprisoned for a period not less than three years,
  • Failure to pay maintenance for the petitioner
  • An attempt to murder or unlawfully kill the petitioner
  • Found to be of unsound mind and unlikely to recover
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Once the court determines the presence of any of the above situations, the petitioner is granted the right to divorce the respondent and other things such as settlements and child custody issues where applicable will then be sorted out.

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