There are various dangers incurred as a result of Divorce, which affects both you, your partner and your children. However if you’re still bent on divorcing your wife/husband, then I have carefully explained the way to go by it.
Divorcing isn’t a mere process of relocating from your husband’s house, but a process which requires energy and time. So you don’t just make up your mind to divorce, but you also have to be ready and sure that you want to go through the process, what to do and how to go about the process.
Thus, the following steps will answer your intending questions about the divorce process in Nigeria.
• WHAT’S YOUR TYPE OF MARRIAGE?
The first step in divorcing is to determine your type of marriage.
Generally, there are two types of marriage in Nigeria; the customary marriage and the statutory marriage. The Customary type of marriage is one in which the contracts binding the marriage is drafted and done under under the laws and tradition of the bride’s family. It is also called the traditional marriage.
A statutory marriage is a kind of marriage that is carried out and registered at a marriage registry -legal. This kind of marriage are sometimes also done in some churches.
Know your type of marriage.
• CHOOSE A COURT
The next step towards divorcing is to choose your court. However, your choice of court is determined by your type of marriage.
For statutory marriages, divorce petitions are filed at the High Court, while Divorce petitions are done at the Customary court.
• CHOOSE YOUR DIVORCE LAWYER
The process of divorce in Nigeria depends on your type of marriage. Thus, your type of marriage also determines the type of lawyer you will hire.
However, this step is the most crucial aspect when divorcing. Your choice of lawyer’s first assignment is to advise you and further help you with the issues you have to deal with in the procedure.
Before you choose your lawyer, it is advisable to consider the following;
1) The experience of the lawyer in your type of marriage.
2) If the level of the lawyer’s knowledge of the laws (especially marriage laws) meets your requirements.
3) If he/she is more interested in listening to you and helping you first rather than just fulfilling his own needs.
If such lawyer passes this requirements, then he/she can be chosen as your choice of lawyer.
• UNDERSTAND THE BASIS UPON WHICH YOU FILE YOUR DIVORCE
You have to understand the basis upon which you want to file your divorce. Neglecting this step is as good as not beginning the process of divorcing.
According to “The Matrimonial Causes Act Chapter 220, Section 15 and 16 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria of 1990”, “a petition for dissolving a marriage can be filed by either party.” According to this act, there are eight reasons upon which you can file for divorce in Nigeria:
1. If the other party has intentionally refused to give you sexual right in the marriage.
2. On cases of betrayal which you cannot tolerate or live with again.
3. Cases of persistent unreasonable behavior (e.g. violence, assault, drug use or excessive alcohol use, acts that put the other party consistently harm’s way).
4. If your partner has abandoned you for at least a period of one year prior to the time of the submission of divorce request. This is also called Abandonment.
5. The two of you have been separated for at least a period of two years prior to the date of the filing of divorce without objection from the other party.
6. The two of you have lived separately for a continuous period of at least three years before the date of the submission of the request for divorce.
7. Failure to comply with a proclamation or order made by a court on resolving previous marital issues or rights.
8. If the other party cannot be found and is presumed dead with substantial reasons to believe so.
If the you’ve satisfactory met with one or more of theses reasons, and also, the marriage is beyond reconciliation, then the divorce petition would be considered by the court.
• FILE YOUR DIVORCE PETITION.
This is more like the final step, after you must have completed the above steps with the help of your chosen lawyer, you can then proceed to file for divorce in the right court.
After filing for divorce, your partner would be served with papers, and thereafter asked to respond, after which the divorce proceedings can begin.
However, before a divorce certificate is issued in Nigeria, settlement (which includes the child’s custody & care) must have been ruled on by the court.
Divorce proceedings doesn’t have a specified time. However, they might last for a year, more than that, or maybe less. The timing generally depends on the amount of cooperation both parties involved offer. Also, in cases of children involvement, the children’s custody & care also determines the timing.
Finally, I’ll urge you to think about your decision once again. Separation isn’t always the best solution to misunderstandings in a marriage.