How to Get a Divorce in Nigeria, the 8 Grounds for Divorce: Tokunbo Melaye v. Dino Melaye

In Legal Drama by Africa Music Law™15 Comments

Men can be funny, really. I realize the majority of my audience on AML are men but fellas, you all can be quite funny at times, and not necessarily in a good way. I discussed this explosive family law case with you all at the close of December 2013 and also shared some documents and statements from the husband and wife. While the case remains hotly contested and makes its way to court on the divorce proceedings et al., this year, January 2nd, 2014, Dino Melaye takes to social media to share his new woman. *Smh* Tokunbo also subsequently took to twitter to share her sentiments.

This had me really curious to really search for the grounds for divorce in Nigeria’s family court. I know the rates of divorce have increased but if you want a divorce, how do you get one? Here is what I found:

In a nutshell, if you want a divorce, you file your petition with the court seeking a divorce. The divorce must be based on the ground that the marriage has been broken down irretrievably. What does irretrievably mean?  The court will consider eight different grounds under the act highlighted below.

1.  No sex i.e. no consummation of the marriage.
2. Adultery.
3. Conduct that is unreasonable (rape, bestiality, habitual drunkard, sodomy, murderer, incarcerated (in prison),   attempted murder of a spouse, intent to or actual commission of serious bodily injury, inability to take care of spouse).
4. Abandonment  ( must be at least one year prior to the filing of the divorce petition).
5. 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. So, you file for a divorce, the court says how long have you been apart, you say two years. The court asks your spouse whether he/she will object to the divorce and he/she says, “no.”
6.  Separation (living apart for a continued period of three years prior to the filing of the divorce petition).
7. Failure to comply with a court order regarding marriage or the sexual rights or privilege of a marriage.
8. Death/Reason to Believe Spouse is Dead.

What Law Governs?

Matrimonial Causes Act
Chapter 220, section 15 & 16
Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990

Dissolution of marriage
15. (1) A petition under this Act by a party to a marriage for a decree of dissolution of the marriage may be presented to the court by either party to the marriage upon the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievablyy.

(2) The court hearing a petition for a decree of dissolution of a marriage shall hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably if, but only if, the petitioner satisfies the court of one or more of the following facts- (Folks note you must satisfy one or more of the factors below):

(a) that the respondent has wilfully and persistently refused to consummate the marriage; (this means he or she is not giving you sex).

(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 way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;

(d) that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; (Abandonment – many Nigerian relationships qualify for this, especially the foreign ones where the couple marry and he or she heads to Nigeria and remain there with no communication, companionship etc. whatsoever) 

(e) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent does not object to a decree being granted;

(f) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least three 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 restitution of conjugal rights made under this Act;

(h) that the other party to the marriage has been absent from the petitioner for such time and in such circumstances as to provide reasonable grounds for presuming that he or she is dead.

(3) For the purpose of subsection (2) (e) and (f) of this section the parties to a marriage shall be treated as living apart unless they are living with each other in the same household.

SECTION 16 Shows how you Meet the Burdens in Section 15

16. (1) Without prejudice to the generality of section 15(2)(c) of this Act, the court hearing a petition for a decree to of dissolution of marriage shall hold that the petitioner has satisfied the court of the fact mentioned in the said section 15(2)(c) of this Act if the petitioner satisfies the court that-

(a) since the marriage, the respondent has committed rape, sodomy, or bestiality; or

(b) since the marriage, the respondent has, for a period of not less than two years-

(i) been a habitual drunkard, or

(ii) habitually been intoxicated by reason of taking or using to excess any sedative, narcotic or stimulating drug or preparation, or has, for a part or parts of such a period, been a habitual drunkard and has, for the other part or parts of the period, habitually been so intoxicated; or

(c) since the marriage, the respondent has within a period not exceeding five years-

(i) suffered frequent convictions for crime in respect of which the respondent has been sentenced in the aggregate to imprisonment for not less than three years, and

(ii) habitually left the petitioner without reason- able means of support; or

(d) since the marriage, the respondent has been in prison for a period of not less than three years after conviction for an offence punishable by death or imprisonment for life or for a period of five years or more, and is still in prison at the date of the petition; or

(e) since the marriage and within a period of one year immediately preceding the date of the petition, the respondent has been convicted of-

(i) having attempted to murder or unlawfully to kill the petitioner, or

(ii) having committed an offence involving the intentional infliction of grievous harm or grievous hurt on the petitioner or the intent to inflict grievous harm or grievous hurt on the petitioner;

(f) or the respondent has habitually and wilfully failed, throughout the period of two years immediately preceding the date of the petition, to pay maintenance for the petitioner-

(i) ordered to be paid under an order of, or an order registered in, a court in the Federation, or

(ii) agreed to be paid under an agreement between the parties to the marriage providing for their separation; or

(g) the respondent-

(i) is, at the date of the petition, of unsound mind and unlikely to recover, and

(ii) since the marriage and within the period of six ears immediately preceding the date of the petition, as been confined for a period of, or for periods aggregating, not less than five years in an institution where persons may be confined for unsoundness of mind in accordance with law, or in more than one such institution.

(2) Where a petition is based on the fact mentioned in section 15(2)(h) of this Act-

(a) proof that, for a period of seven years immediately preceding the date of the petition, the other party to the marriage was continually absent from the petitioner and that the petitioner has no reason to believe that the other party was alive at any time within that period is sufficient to establish the fact in question, unless it is shown that the other party to the marriage was alive at a time within that period; and

(b) a decree made pursuant to the petition shall be in the form of a decree of dissolution of marriage by reason of presumption of death.”

~Ms. Uduak

UPDATE (5/1/2017):

Please do your due diligence before you engage the services of any lawyer. In addition, make sure there is a fit in terms of chemistry with your lawyer, and that your lawyer actually listens and responds to your legal needs.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCE 

1.Domestic Violence and Abuse Resource Center (Nigeria)

2. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (USA)

DIVORCE ATTORNEY RECOMMENDATIONS (Nigeria)
1. Tajudeen Oluwaseye Lawal
L & A Legal Consultants
3rd Floor, 62 Awolowo Road, South West Ikoyi, Lago
Tel/Fax: +234-1 – 4612213/4, 7902879
Email: (seye@lalegalconsultants.com)

2. Ayomide Falade
Lawfields Solicitors and Advocates
Phone: 08095266789
Email: (ayomide@lawfieldslawyers.com)

3. Mrs. Dorcas Odunnaike
DA Odunnaike Chambers
Phone: 08028446155

DIVORCE ATTORNEY RECOMMENDATIONS (USA)
California
1.EBITU LAW GROUP, P.C.
Attorney Unwam Oduok
Phone: 916-361-6506
Email: (unwam@ebitulawgrp.com)
www.ebitulawgrp.com

Texas
2. KAFOR LAW FIRM
Attorney Yvonne Kafor
Phone: 214-576-2221
www.kaforlaw.com

New York & New Jersey 
3. FRANCES NICOTRA LAW FIRM
Attorney Frances Nicotra
Phone: 201-963-9423
Email: fnicotra@fnesqlaw.com
Website: www.fnesqlaw.com

 

 

Africa Music Law™
WHAT IS AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML): It is a pioneering and revolutionary law blog launched in 2011 to empower the African artist and the creative industry at large. In 2014, I launched a complimentary podcast show, The Africa Music Law Show, available on iTunes/Apple Podcast and Stitcher Radio. For feedback, advertising, or licensing inquiries please email (africamusiclaw@gmail.com).

WHAT I DO: My name is Uduak Oduok and I am a California licensed attorney who helps creatives and business owners sleep better at night by protecting their creativity and reputation, securing their rights, and helping them with the monetization of their intellectual property assets.

WHO I WORK WITH: I have counseled a range of clients from musicians, models, actors, actresses, and designers, to diverse business owners in numerous areas of the law including contracts, business law, fashion and entertainment law, copyright, trademark, and intellectual property law. I bring over two decades of first-hand knowledge and experiences that are as diverse as they are deep in the fashion and entertainment industries (modeling, retail, production, public relations, journalism, and publishing). I am an attorney who “gets it” when it comes to resolving legal issues for the fashion and entertainment industries.

INTERESTED IN TALKING TO ME ABOUT LEGAL REPRESENTATION? To arrange a consultation to discuss your case, contact me at 916-361-6506 or email me directly at (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com).

Full bio: Ms. Uduak Bio/

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Comments

  1. What is the process and legality of processing and obtaining a divorce certificate in Nigeria,for a marriage contracted outside of Nigeria?

    1. Africa Music Law™ Author

      David, you need to speak with a local family law attorney in Nigeria to assist you. Contact me at (africamusiclaw@gmail.com) and I am happy to make a referral.

  2. Yes. I also need info on how to file for a divorce from Abuja Nigeria. I also live in the USA. He was supposed to start the process but hasn’t I need this done or started by the end of this year.

  3. hello,i will like to know if I can file a divorce and also take custody of my daughter (2years old) ?my husband doesn’t stay home because he travels a lot, like 6 month or a year but
    wenever he is home,we seem to quarell a lot and sometimes
    hits me..and before that gets worse.please I would like to know my fate. thank you.

  4. What determines a venue to file for divorce in Nigeria is the domicile of the party (i.e. the petitioner) filing for divorce (see, Omotunde vs. Omotunde (2001) 9 NWLR Pt. 718, P. 252). Domicile has to do with where that person regards as his permanent home. It’s the domicile of a husband that determines the domicile of the wife. So, a Nigerian who resides outside Nigeria can still return to Nigeria to file for divorce as long as that person has not acquired the citizenship of that other country. If a person acquires the citizenship of another country, his Nigerian citizenship is put in abeyance – (Ugo vs. Ugo (2008) 5 NWLR Pt. 1079, P. 1).

  5. Hello i wud i like to divorce my husband. Reason is emotional and verbal abuse, and threats of physical abuse. How do i go about it?

  6. I want to know how to go about divorce proceedings .I have 2 kids .I have been physically and emotionally abused. He asked me to move out of the house that if I refuse he was going to burn me to aches .those threat made me move out with my kids .am alone taking care of my children

  7. I need a divorce and I want my three children to be in my custody. He doesn’t take care of me nor the children. He uses the mother and siblings to abuse and assult me. The mother will always tell me that am no longer needed in the family. Recently the siblings beat me up inside my room and he supported them. They are doing everything humanly possible to turn my children against me. So i really need to live with my children. Pls i need urgent attention.

  8. I leave in Bauchi state, had a wedding for 4 years now need a divorce. I realized that my wife and I are not compatible, perhaps I do not deserve her because she’s is a lady of good conduct but with a law IQ. What should I do.

  9. Good morning everyone, I got married last year December, I notice my marriage is being control by my wife mother and my wife disrespect me making the marriage a living a hell for me. I want to make annulling of the marriage. All my wife think of he’s money and expensive life. I can’t give her that kind of life she want to live. I give her 50-100 k a month and she still complain of me not taking care of her. Please I need advice on how to go about it. My wife sweet talk me into getting into court married with her without paying her bride price. She keep insisting to see every property I have. I see the marriage as a Freud. I’m currently in Malaysia and my wife is in Nigeria, I’m from edo state.

  10. I need a divorce my husband abuse me emotionally and spiritually and even threatening me if I divorce him

  11. @Mr Olasoji: You would need other strong reasons before you can get the court to dissolve your marriage. Low IQ if that’s what you mean seems not enough. Have you tried ways of upgrading her to the level you desire, considering other good qualities she has?

  12. @ Ms Aminat. It is safer to report the matter of threat to the authorities around you while the divorce matter is pending. I believe you will discuss details of the emotional abuse with your lawyer to know if it can ground a divorce.

    Good job by the owners of this site.

  13. I’ve been married for five years now with two kids, but things haven’t really turned out as desired. There’s been a high level of sexless ness, no respect and Honour from my wife, add to the fact that we just don’t get along well on just about everything. I honestly want out of the marriage and really need help achieving this.

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