What You Need To Do Before Getting A Divorce in Nigeria
Once you’ve made up your mind to get a divorce here are the next ten steps you should take
1. Plan where you r going to live. If you want custody of the children the court will demand to know how and where you with live with them. In some cases the courts have accepted a woman’s parents residence but almost never if you are living with anyone else.
2. Start saving money, you will need all the money you can get whether you are expecting to live on your own or with your children. And divorce proceedings can get expensive.
3. Get a job if you don’t have one. To get custody the court will demand you show proof of work.
4. Calculate /track your living expenses for 3 to 6 months with receipts etc.
5. If you cannot work or get a job you must be able to demand maintenance from your spouse especially if your spouse prevented you working. Gather evidence to prove this.
6. Make copies of all important documentation like marriage certificates, children’s birth certificates. Any properties you own together that you believe you have a substantial claim or interest in
7. Consider whether you were married in church and which one, in a registry or a traditional ceremony or a combination of the 3. If you were married in the Catholic Church or the Anglican Church your marriage comes under statutory law even if you did not go to a registry. Your lawyer will file in the High court. If you married in any of the other churches you should ask them. I’ll get information on all churches that qualify asap and post to the blog. If its a traditional ceremony only then customary and tribal law applies. You’re petition will be filed in a customary court. Look for a lawyer whose expertise is there
8. Make a short-list of lawyers to see in your locality. Get names by word of mouth, on-line or through legal articles. Go and interview each of them. Make sure they understand the particular law as it relates to you and are sympathetic with you. If their first response is to advice or insist on reconciliation move on. Do not go with your evidence for the first meeting. Assess the lawyer before making a commitment.
9. If you’re satisfied that the lawyer will act in your best interest to secure a divorce/ separation for you and get custody for you then go and give him photocopies of all your evidence for assessment. Create your own file to keep at home. This when you should pay your retainer fee and sign an agreement with your lawyer.
10. If you want to claim maintenance or even division of property you will need evidence of your spouses income and assets. This will include salary slips, bank statements, property deeds etc. Make sure you get copies of all these things if they are available.
10. Talk to your family and your friends and your pastor before deciding on a divorce. Only go see a lawyer after you’ve decided that you want a divorce or separation. I’ve met lawyers that believe their personal ‘calling’ is to reconcile divorcing couples. I do not.
Don’t go to a lawyer unless your decision is made. Its not the lawyer’s job to help you decide one way or the other really or to advise you whether or not to get a divorce. The decision is yours, a lawyers job is to make it legally possible for you to achieve your aim with the full protection of the law. So help your lawyer help you. Take these steps first.
Of course there are times when the decision to leave is abrupt and you cannot be prepared. If your life is in danger you must put your safety first.