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.




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87 Responses to “What You Need To Do Before Getting A Divorce in Nigeria”

  1. dd Says:

    Thanks 4 d post…. Am not working now, am a corper, does dat mean dat my ex get custody of our son… And he stays aboard…

    • mz_agams Says:

      There are a lot of other factors to consider especially the fact that he stays abroad. Courts are reluctant to give custody to a parent outside the country especially if it means the no custodial parent loses regular visitation rights. However, the fact that you don’t have a job right now suggest you shouldn’t be thinking of a divorce or a custody trial. Wait till you have a steady income. You will need to take care of both you and your son.

  2. Seun Says:

    Good day mzagams, this has been very informative. I would like to have more advice on this topic. I am in search of a divorce lawyer and I would like to talk to you. Kindly give your email address and office address. I would appreciate if this confidential. Thank you.

  3. Adetutu Says:

    I am self employed, can i still get d custody of my kid wit dat?

  4. Maryann Says:

    Wow i love this, is so interesting though am not praying for a divource but get to know about it thanks.

  5. funmi Says:

    I live in Abuja. Pls recommend a lawyer I want to start divorce proceedings.

  6. Weza Says:

    My partner his Nigerian we live together for 5 years in EU, the guy ‘s married person .
    We are building a house in Nigeria. I’m asking when they get divorce his wife has the power of the house?
    I worked hard for the building to happen and I’m not Nigerian

  7. Abimbola Says:

    Please i need your advise on this,I av a fiance now whom am pregnant for,and he has not legally divorce his ex wife he married for just 4months wit no child before she packed her belongings from the house,now she got to know of me bt not the pregnancy,how long can the divorce take and can they grant the divorce in favour of my fiance

  8. felicia Says:

    I need ur help pls in box me ur office addres thanks

  9. Weza Says:

    Thanks for replayed, We live together for 5 years how she contributing for the cost? The house we start building at 8 months ago. Can you clarify to me please. Him does live with her they don’t have children.

  10. nossy Says:

    I hv decided to let go of d woman I married a year and 6months but need a lawyer to help with the divorce.
    I am currently not working for almost two years but knew my wife before I lost my job and yet am treated as one with no vision by her and d parents. Prior b4 r delivery we were in good terms I presume cuz she is based in abj y am in lag but as a result of an agreement btw us on r EDD for an interview I had I cldnt travel down to abj bt r mum did on dat same day. After delivery she went cold and I beg to speak with r. She stays in r father house in abj n r mum in lagm am bini she ekiti and a lot I can’t explain here now I was made to no my child data 8days after delivery n upon r arrival in lag. On r naming she was crying, long story short after dedication in church we had a disagreement n I slap r face next was she quickly called r mum n came to pack all r stuff from my home to der place. She travel to abj n my parents called r but she declined even r parents accused me of wanting to kill r n marry sum1 else. Well she is in abj n don’t speak to any relative or siblings of mine and r parents has neva for onced called to ask wat happened instead r dad says I sld call r mum n beg r. She travel to abj and I got to no she went to do anoda dedication of d child and truly its over four months and she has not seen any reason to live with me but instead tell people dat r happiness n life is key n dat r parents neva liked me from onset cuz am not der tribe or church member n not d type dey want for r. I hv reason over and decuded to let r b so she cld marry d man r parents wants. She never for once bought anything to my home and all d baby uses were bought by me or family. Pls I need a lawyer I can reach. I hv gone to c r pastors but r parents hv told r never to come back n she has also stood with dem since all she c is material tins. I can’t really say all its more dan dis but d truth is I did notin to r n only time I slapped r doug y I was in abj she called security to take me out of r house simply cuz I told r to go bath n put off d TV or go sleep inside.

  11. mimi Says:

    Hi, i hav a job to take care of my children m,y spouse says he needs a divorce, i want to know if i can hav d custody of my three children, since dey are just less than 6yrs. pls a reply

  12. chinonye Says:

    I am married in court with a lady and later found out that she had three kids for another man who has started marriage rites with her but stopped. now I need a divorce but she has a kid for me. what do I do cos am really in need of divorce. I want out.

  13. Atria Says:

    Hello. Great job on the info provided above. How do I get access to divorce records in Nigeria? I don’t live there. My husband tells me the divorce is almost finalized. He also said I should bring up any objections to him as the notice period ends on Monday. I smell a rat, as I have received no communication whatsoever, from his lawyer. I find that strange. Husband lives there and has told me he filed from there.

    • mz_agams Says:

      Get the name of the court where he filed the papers. If you were not served them there is something fishy going on. Never trust a spouse to handle all divorce details. You must be involved because what the courts says will stay unless you appeal later

      • Atria Says:

        Thank you for the response. When I realized it all seemed fishy, I asked him to send me any correspondence between himself and the attorney. Nothing! That was last week. It appears I’m being ignored now. And how can the courts move forward without the attorney contacting me? I suspect he may have provided incorrect contact information for me or he may have forged my signature. I really don’t care about too much besides the little girl we had together. I am feeling a little helpless, not knowing what’s going on or what to do next. How do I find out the info on the divorce if he refuses to respond to me? He resides in Lagos.

        • mz_agams Says:

          I wish I could be of more help, with out a case number there is little to nothing you can do.

          You could file your own petition and serve him if you know where he lives, if he has filed he will have to give you the details

  14. Abby Says:

    Pls my marriage is definitely irreconcilable. I have a daughter with my husband but I stay in d US while he stays in Nigeria and my daughter was born in d US too.I tried to talk to my husband calmly about this and explain to him that this decision is for the sake of my health and my daughter’s because we r at war every single time both when I was in Nigeria n when I travelled (can u imagine him cursing me out on the phone while I was in the labour room)but he keeps threating me with fetish things and even says the only reason he is gonna grant me a divorce is if I give him he child.he doesn’t even have a job,he lost his apartment and he has not sent me a dime for taking care of my baby which will soon be turning two.
    I am thinking coming to Nigeria soon(although am so scared) to start a divorce case,please where do I stand? How can I get custody of my kid?what r my chances?

    • mz_agams Says:

      You can start proceedings in the US too. Speak to a lawyer. If your fear is about custody just be sure to get a competent lawyer, the courts no longer automatically give custody to fathers

  15. Tami F. Says:

    I am scared n only God saved me a few minutes ago.I want my two kids along with me. Can you be my defence lawyer?

  16. Sylvester Stephen Says:

    Plz may I have ur phone contact? Thanks

  17. sam Says:

    Gr8 job!
    Pls at what age can a man take d custody of his xdren legaly frm a wman? Samuel

  18. obison Says:

    pls.i need ur help. i married this lady now for 7yrs but we did not have kids, i find out that she is a lier of her age, many things . but she we are not in love but she is intersted in my money. beacours i base europe, i take care of her university for 3yrs ,open a shop for her, rent a flat in lagos and a car for her. i weld and do court marriege also. but now is the family n friend is runing my home i can take it any more, she has alot of sickness that’s difficult for woman to take in, she has to go for opretion since 3yrs ago i notice it, but she refuse with her family. i have some propertie in Nigeria will she have power or share over them? my

  19. obison Says:

    pls, i need ur advice. i married this lady with de name, john mike in ikoyi with catificate, but after two years i change my name to john okadigbo ,is official my question is if i have to divorce will it be the name in de certificate john Mike or my curent name john okadigbo? thaks reply.

  20. brown Says:

    This site gives me the strenght to face my life.I am just 9months in marriage but have been beaten and insulted even during pregnacy.I had to run from the house after the last beating to have my baby.I left everytin behind,my cloths,certificates and car.my baby is just 5 days and he has been threathening to come and collect the child from me and this has been giving me sleepless night.pls how do I stop him from snatching my baby away from me and returning other valuable he has sized.

    • mz_agams Says:

      Go to the nearest social welfare office in the state where you live and if you can get a lawyer asap. Also talk to family and church to let the know of the situation. Good luck and be safe. Hugs

  21. Aniekan Says:

    Hello…I would love your thoughts on his issue. My father was married to my mother through customary proceedings in the 50s. They had been married for more 33years with 2 surviving out of 4 kids with which time we several properties in 3 states. While trying to go for my NYSC…the dey divorced in one sided situation as my father had all the finacial muscle and we were evicted from one of the properties which I grew up in. At this time my mum had a severe diabetic situation and really lost all strenght to put up and relevant fight and eventually died from deteriorating complications which I can simply term as a heartbreak. My dad remarried to a lady friends daughter and built a house her without our knowlegde and she is about 58 years younger than him with 3 kids now….but he is now selling off the properties to support them…is it possible to restrain him from doing this ? (as those properties where gotten while my mother was with him) or should we just sit back a watch all memoirs erased. My brother and me are now married with children and as much as he chose to look the other way as the first son….I was the last child and felt all the weight of the crash till i could gobfor my service through sympathisers and it still hurts ….just your thoughts and thanks for this opportunity.

    • mz_agams Says:

      Under customary law your mother is not entitled to any of your fathers properties. If you can try and talk to him. tell him how his actions are affecting you and why you would like him to retain or transfer to you and your brother some of the property. Maybe he needs the money. But a sfor his new wife and family? Its really none of your business

  22. Danny Says:

    Thanks for so much for your advice and just recently i had little problems with my wife because of her misbehavior in social network and i tried to correct which she didn’t accept and he said i am always abusing her, i knew i did nothing and she called to let me know that she has decided to leave the marriage. we wedded in the court and church , and i noticed recently she has changed her name and status in Facebook even when we have not legally divorced. I was the one that trained her in school and she just changed since she gained admission to the Nigeria Law School. what should i do?

    • mz_agams Says:

      If she doesn’t want to come back let her go, it wasn’t meant to be especially if you don’t have children yet. be happy it happened sooner than later. She was obviously ready to move on

  23. robin griffin Says:

    i got married to an america woman and i can’t seem to locate her or get in contact with her again for over two years now and i find my self another woman that i fall in love with. i want to get a divorce and marry her what do u think i should do to end the marriage i can’t find her anywhere we only get married in Nigeria and i’m in Nigeria. do u think there are other ways i can end the marriage in court

  24. Adetola Says:

    Thanks for this.

  25. missb4real4luv Says:

    My husband and i got married at Ikoyi Registry on the 8th of May, 2010.we are blessed with two boys, age 3 and half and 1 and half.I”v been carrying 70% of the children responsibility with out any complain but hes not appreciable.he keeps quarreling with often times, sometimes he keeps malice for 3 months and more than. both families have intervene several times but all this didn”t yield any improvement.7months ago he became more violent that he almost injured so i left the house with my two kids to my parent house and he did n”t show after 3 days.wen his parent visited my father after one week, my father told them that they should allow me pick some of my stuff for and stay for 3moths that may be he needed some breathing space. wen he moved to his newly completed house at Mowe, Ogun state, he pack my my valuables outside and left it there.it was my neighbour that inform me abut my stuff. He didn’t show for 3months till i took the case to d welfare before they summoned him to come so he can take part in d responsibilities of d children.they even advice reconciliation,initially he obliged and we discuss d conditions 3months ago.later last week he request we meet at d welfare office and getting there, he said he doesn’t want have anything to do with me. I am tired of him becos dts hes attitude when we still together.on and off.

    what measure can i take to dissolve d marriage so i can move ahead with my life cos he can be enjoying his life and not traped in dis marriage while i am and he believe he can marry another wife since i can’t track him cos he lives in mowe, Ogun State now and I live in Lagos and he does not want to carry out d legal process himself becos of d grounds and he also believe that even if i take him to court i will loose.i don’t know what to do. please your advice will be appreciated.

    thank you

    • mz_agams Says:

      Live apart from him for two years and then get a lawyer to file a petition of divorce for you. Living apart for two years fulfils grounds for divorce as evidence of irreconcilable differences. Continue to monitor his address so you can serve him court papers when the time comes. Keep evidence of all your expenses for the children during that two years. Every kobo and every naira. Receipts reports etc. When filing for divorce ask for custody and explain that he is not maintaining them only you, Attach all your evidence. He can still contest the divorce but if you live apart for 3 years the court will give you a divorce


    am not working and cant place my hands on any of our document dont have a child yet and the union is one year this month

  27. Jim Says:

    Is it still neccessary to get lawyers where the two parties have agreed to get divorce. If not, what is the procedure.

  28. Jim Says:

    Can i file a divorce in a state other where the marriage was contracted?

  29. Jim Says:

    Can i file a divorce in a state other than where the marriage was contracted?

  30. Patrick Says:

    Hi Please assist me, Can I file for a divorce in court on my own without the service of Lawyer? If so how do I get a copy of the divorce petition.

  31. Mofe Says:

    What’s the difference between waiting for 2yrs or 3yrs before filing for divorce in Nigeria?

    • mz_agams Says:

      if you been separated and loving apart for two years court takes it as evidence that marriage irretrievably broken down but the respondent can bring evidence to disprove this. If you been separated and living apart 3 years doesn’t matter if the respondent tried to contest

  32. Mofe Says:

    Thanks for clarifying

  33. Felly Says:

    pls help, i have been married (legally married) for 15 years with no children and my husband is contracting another marriage with another woman secretly without my consent, what do i do?

  34. Lew Says:

    My wife left me 2 years ago. Before she left, she had been sleeping with other men. Every time I found out, she pleaded to be forgiven and given another chance. This continued until she finally left.

    I only have her confession to myself and some family friends as evidence.

    If I filed for divorce based on abandonment ( she left about 2 years ago), and she tries to defend it, can I withdraw that filing and wait until 3 years then refile?

    I’m really not interested in a long drawn out court case, but she seems to want one. Also, do I have to provide for her as she has been working since she left.

  35. Lew Says:

    Good Day,
    I posted a question yesterday, but it didn’t show up.Maybe I forgot to hit “Post Comment”.

    My wife left me about 2 years ago. Prior to her departure, I had found out she was having relationships with different men. Every time this happened she would ask to be given another chance.
    One day, she finally moved out to a different state while I was away on business. She is living on her own there and has been working there since then.

    I filed for divorce based on abandonment, but she wants to fight the filing. I did not want to file based on adultery because the only actual evidence i have of her affairs is that she admitted it to family and friends.

    -Can I use her admission to file on basis of adultery
    -Can I withdraw the initial filing based on abandonment, wait for separation to be up to 3 years, then file so she cannot defend it?
    -Do I have to pay her any support since she is employed?

    I am grateful for your advice.

  36. Femi Sonowo Says:

    Great remedies to broken marriages . I’ll send you a mail soon.

  37. Gloria Says:

    Good day
    I had court marriage 2 years ago. I don’t have any kid with the man. Am a lady, I have properties. I bought a land and built a one bedroom flat it even before I married him with my dad’s name. While we were married I built more houses on the land. I notice he’s a brutal liar. Within this period he had no source of income.

    NOTE: He didn’t contribute a penny to it.

    Can he claim my properties or want to share it 50/50?

  38. Gloria Says:

    I mean with my 1st name and dad’s other names.

  39. Divorce in Nigeria, Option or Taboo | Chancery, Strand & Lyon Associates Says:

    […] [ii] https://mzagams.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/what-you-need-to-do-before-getting-a-divorce-in-nigeria/ […]

  40. bolade john Says:

    I file for a divorce since January 2015. My wife has being receiving the court proceedings, but refuses to appear in the court. Although part of the preceding was received by her family member. Is it possible for me to get judgment this year. Am tired I want to get marry.

  41. bukky Says:

    i have been married for 2years & 5months with a 1year 7months old daughter form the marriage. we got married in the Anglican church. he is a catholic. he does not take up any financial responsibility on me or my child. right now i feed him because he eats from whatever i cook not minding how or where i got money to do so. i paid for the house rent in 2014 before i delivered my baby so that we could get a befitting accommodation he promised to pay but he never did., he paid in 2015 but i since we are due to pay another one in November 2015 he has been complaining that he has no money. since i put to bed till date he has not been paying for our feeding nor for diaper or clothing yet i cook and do his laundry at no cost. i provide even the soap to wash his clothes without a word of appreciation from him. he talks down at me and treats me like a maid. he consumes all my food and whenever i complain he tells me that he cant kill himself as he does not have. he is a level 13 civil servant. he talks down on me in the public yet also wants me to attend functions with him. i opened a shop and i work as a receptionist just to help myself but since he cant make positive impact to my life i feel i rather leave him. when i complain he tells me that the job i have was gotten through his influence and that whatever my parents or siblings give me is given to me because of him so he has a right over whatever i own. he wants me to look good and take care of my child yet he cant give me N3000 per month as he promised to pay as upkeep allowance since January 2015 after i reported to his family & friends. i am to longer living with him as he threatens to beat me up and verbal insults. I live in fear with him and i am not happy as his behavior is affecting me psychologically. he said i should put my child in a school he recommended, he paid N200 and has since stopped. please should i just move out of the house or seek divorce first. i dont want to give him sex and i dont want any physical fight because of my daughter

    • mz_agams Says:

      Did you marry in the registry? Move out first and save yourself

    • omobolade333 Says:

      My brother file for a divorce since January 2015 up till know he has not got judgement. What is the likely problem? Although the wife have not being apear in the court but she do sjgn for receiving some of the court order. Pls what can he do to get judgement before the end of this year.

      • mz_agams Says:

        Only the court can control whether he gets judgement his year and the judicial process can be slow. If the wife doesn’t appear but signed the process his lawyer can ask for judgement in her absence. Even if he gets a decree nisi this year he won’t get a decree absolute for 6 months after that, so not likely this year

  42. jenugo Says:

    Thanks so much for the resourceful information. I have been married for almost 7 years. To cut a long story short, the marriage has been tumultuous at best with repeated instances of cheating, emotional and even physical abuse. We have 3 children and for thier sake I have struggled to keep this family together. I work but I don’t earn as much as he does because he bullied me into leaving a very lucrative job. Basically, hes threatened to take the children. I’m done but I’m trapped. I will not leave my kids but I no longer want to be married to him. Please how do I go about procuring a divorce and yet retaining custody of my children

  43. JULIANNA Says:

    pls can i have your email

  44. Ola Says:

    Thank you for this blog. Kindly advise also.

    I packed out of my husband’s house to my parent’s 2weeks ago after series of physical abuse ( he does this whenever he drinks or gets jealous of me cos he is out of job, we lost our first pregnancy during one of these physical abuses). I tried to make things normal between us but it gets worse- We are just 1year old, got it officialised in ikoyi registry, but was told i cant file for divorce yet till the marrriage is 2years old. I am fedup of him and need to move on fast! i dont want anythn holding me back should i find someone else dat wants to marry me in nearest future.

    Kindly advise.

    • mz_agams Says:

      Yes, you must wait two years before you can file for a divorce. Be grateful that ou found out on time. Two years of separation and living apart also establishes the marriage is broken down

  45. Iyke Says:

    I and my wife are just cohabiting, we have being living this way for the past 8 years though blessed with the sweetest daughter in the whole world. now we are ready to go our different ways,
    Do court accept when two people agree to part ways?
    How long will it likely take to conclude this
    We had a court notification and married in a govt recognized church
    Thank you

    • mz_agams Says:

      You are legally married. I don’t understand what you mean ‘just cohabiting’. You need to go to court to file a divorce petition. You can’t just ‘go your different ways’. If you don’t any other person you marry will be a null and void marriage

  46. Temilola Says:

    Please madam, is it possible for me to file a divorce case myself without the help of a lawyer?

  47. Chinyere Says:

    Please madam, what if he is the first to file for divorce, does that automatically give him an upper hand in retaining custody of the children? we both dont want the marriage anymore and we ve got 3 kids together. i cant afford to leave the kids for him. I need to bring up the kids myself cos he knows nothing about instilling discipline in them. but with financial help from him. Meanwhile, I will like to also know the importance of divorce aside getting married again cos i dont intend to get married again. I dont mind just being separated from him. He can get married to someone else, no problem. Thanks

    • mz_agams Says:

      No, it does not automatically mean he has an upper hand. the court will decide, make sure in your response you tell everything why he should not have the kids. You can also ask for a separation agreement from the court or in your response. he can only marry again under customary law

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