Editor’s Note: Saheed Akinola Esq, the Managing Partner of Choiceland solicitors, in this latest article, explains the procedure for getting divorce in Nigeria.
Saheed is a legal practitioner and human right crusader. He could be contacted through +2348032493960, lagoslawgurus@gmail,com
Divorce is clearly not a pleasant subject to discuss, considering its effect on both parties and the children of the union and a person in a marriage would always be urged to find a way of reconciling their differences. However, it is important for any person seeking to divorce to be fully acquainted with the process.
When it is clear that the boat of a marriage has hit the rock, it is important to take the necessary legal steps to formally terminate the relationship
There are two ways to legally end a marriage—annulment and divorce.
Difference between annulment and divorce
The main difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce ends a legally valid marriage, while an annulment formally declares a marriage to have been legally invalid.
A decree of nullity is a declaration by a court that your marriage never existed in the eyes of the law. It means that no valid marriage exists between you and your partner.
A divorce ends a legal marriage and declares the spouses to be single again. It is sought when the parties acknowledge that the marriage existed
However, annulment is a legal ruling that erases a marriage by declaring the marriage null and void and that the union was never legally valid. What it means is that the marriage is void ab-initio. This is sought when one or both of the spouses believe that there was something legally invalid about the marriage in the first place.
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Ground for divorce
There is only one ground for obtaining a decree of divorce and that is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
In order to prove that a marriage has irretrievably broken down proof of one or more of eight facts stated in section 15 (2) (a) (h) of the Act, They are as follows:
a. that the respondent has persistently and willfully refused to consummate the marriage;
b. that since the marriage the Respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
c. 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;
d. that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a constant period of at least one year immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;
e. 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;
f. 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;
g. 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;
h. 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.
Every matrimonial cause or divorce process in Nigeria shall be commenced by Petition – Section 54(1) MCA. The petitioner commences or institutes matrimonial proceedings by a PETITION. The Respondent can also file an answer to the petition. And the Petitioner may also file a reply to the answer.
The Respondent can also cross-petition-which is in the form of another petition. Then Trial may commence.
In conclusion, a statutory marriage divorce process is a serious court proceeding in Nigeria, which requires parties to retain the services of a legal practitioners. In order for a suit of dissolution of marriage to be successful in Nigeria, the Petitioner must have brought his or her petition in line with the grounds stated under the Matrimonial Causes Act and must satisfy the various requirements of the law.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on Divorce procedure in Nigeria. Your lawyer’s advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.