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.





253 thoughts on “What You Need To Do Before Getting A Divorce in Nigeria

  1. Hello Ma
    This is a very good blog to help people about advice pertaining to divorce procedures and I am a person that would rather not have to do this but the circumstances preceed. Thank you for your work in giving free advice in matters of such i am grateful. My husband and I entered a Federal marriage at the Registry in Nigeria, Lagos. We have been separated almost 2yrs, because of other legal matters pertaining to visas and such. I have suspected that he is in a relationship now for which he has not admitted to. But we both agree to a divorce because of hardship in living apart. I am from another country. My question is. . . .do i need to go to Nigeria to file for the divorce or can he send the papers to me so i may sign and then file the divorce for us both until the court proceedings.

    Do we need a lawyer as we both have no properties of such…..
    Thank you kindly

  2. Good day ma
    please are couples required to live together for a specific period of time before filling for devorce? Because I am married for less than six months now and want a devorce. G

  3. Good morning Ma,
    I am a lawyer, practiced for a few years before I stopped but never in divorce proceedings though.
    I have been married for 6 years without a children, problem is from him.
    I noticed he hid his infertility from me.
    He had nothing but mattress, four cushions when we got married. We struggled together, started a company and God started blessing us. He refuses to pay me salary, there is always a fight when I demand for money. Meanwhile he willingly gives his family with so much ease.

    We have also had fights about women and his amorous ways towards them. I have been severally humiliated by his infidelity. Lately, he is in one affair and he doesn’t know I know. He calls the girl and she calls too and sends pictures too.I am keeping quiet and planning the best way to confront him.

    I have planned that if he confesses and seeks help especially with Christian marriage counsellors, I will forgive and continue but I know he will deny and be very proud in it.

    So I have decided to divorce him in the case of the latter.
    I want to represent myself.

    Please educate me on the divorce proceedings.

    Thank you.

  4. Good morning Ma,
    I am a lawyer, practiced for a few years before I stopped but never in divorce proceedings though.
    I have been married for 6 years without a children, problem is from him.
    I noticed he hid his infertility from me.
    He had nothing but mattress, four cushions when we got married. We struggled together, started a company and God started blessing us. He refuses to pay me salary, there is always a fight when I demand for money. Meanwhile he willingly gives his family with so much ease.

    We have also had fights about women and his amorous ways towards them. I have been severally humiliated by his infidelity. Lately, he is in one affair and he doesn’t know I know. He calls the girl and she calls too and sends pictures too.I am keeping quiet and planning the best way to confront him.

    I have planned that if he confesses and seeks help especially with Christian marriage counsellors, I will forgive and continue but I know he will deny and be very proud in it.

    So I have decided to divorce him in the case of the latter.
    I want to represent myself.

    Please educate me on the divorce proceedings.

    Thank you.

  5. Hi. I am married traditionally. My husband is married in registry with another woman but has not been leaving with her for over 6 years and no child from her. He is in court for a divorce. I have a son for him Is there any form of marriage certificate i can get as proof that I am married to him as I intend to change my name to his.

  6. Hi Good day ,
    I am married legally , we did a court marriage at ikoyi in march 2014, I have a daughter for him , Lately he accuse me that I want to kill him because I caught red handed with another woman in his parent house and The parent are support of him, I have all evidence to back up. Now he said we can not leave together again and so he does not want me again.
    Kindly assist me on the necessary process to file a divorce..

    Best Regards

  7. a frd of mine did court n traditional wedding 2yrs ago, BT now seek for divorce.. she have a baby girl which belongs to her ex lover but unknowingly to her hubby before dey got married, she later told her hubby dat d baby isn’t his which he says he can never give d child to anyone, he’s claiming d child… is such case wat do u tink d divorce process n judge will b like?. tnk you

      1. I did my traditional marriage in 2011; my white and court wedding December 2014. For over two years now, I and my husband have not had sex. He has never bought anything for me and my child. I take responsibility of all the things at home.. because of it I developed depression. Please what should I do?

  8. Hi Ma,

    I am married with my husband for 13 years with four (4) Children. I ve been physically and emotionally abused by him and I ve been enduring everything because of those kids but the lastly he packed my belongings to my father’s house that he is not no longer interested in the marriage. I have left his house but my kids are still with him. And he has been living a wayward life, bringing in different types of women to the house. Sometimes the children will caught him having sex with his cousin that stays with them at night. How do I go about getting my children to live with me. I am working and can take care of those kids.

  9. Hello ma,
    I had a statutory marriage in Oyo state 2008, been separated since 2013 which state do I file for divorce? Must it be in Ibadan or any state in Nigeria? Don’t have access to the marriage certificate as it has been with her how do I go about it.

    1. You can file for a petition of divorce in any state where you are resident but you have to serve your spouse in the state where she is resident. You can request for a copy of the marriage certificate at the registry where you got married.

  10. Good day ma,

    Thank you for this blog, and your help towards heartbreaking marriages.

    I only had a traditional marriage after I had 2kids for my husband(4yrs & 2yrs old kids) . Now I wish to be divorced from him due to years of neglect, abandonment and several other issues. We don’t even live together. How do I go about getting a divorce while I retain custody of the children and he continues to provide for their upkeep . Do I need to file in court? Please advise me on what to do.

  11. Hello Ma,

    Your advice is needed, I am a man currently looking out to file a divorce but I want to take custody of my daughter.

    It’s been 4years as since we got married though we only had traditional marriage and at a registery.

    She is not working, but I am and can take care of my daughter from my little income.

    We do not own any property. I don’t have access to the marriage certificate, but she does. In fact, I have never sighted it since we got married because she kept it with her father.

    So I need your advice as to what can be done to be relieved of the relationship and have my daughter in my care.

  12. Hello,

    Myself and my husband has been living separately for two years now and we intend to get divorced. I have been leaving in the apartment he rented with our two kids however.

    Would this be considered as living separately or I would have to get an apartment myself.

  13. We were married for almost 12 years with a daughter to show for it. We’ve been separated over 2 years now and I’ve been living alone. I have been taking care of my daughter right from the beginning and he doesn’t contribute anything as he always claim he never had. I don’t want anything from him. Do i get automatic separation?

  14. Haven received a divorce petition in March 2015 from my partner who became estranged with our children in 2014, the case has been tried to the point that our lawyers have been asked to file written addresses. This has been since August 2016. It baffles me that neither lawyer has appeared in court on 3 subsequent adjourned dates though my attorney tells me I need only appear when Judgement is being delivered.Can another lawyer file this address?

  15. Thanks so much for the information on divorce. I have always thought that it’s not easy to get one in Nigeria. I have been separated from my spouse since 2006 and wants to legal be divorced. We were married under native and customs and marriage registry. He had since remarried and has children from the union. The painful aspect is that we have a daughter whom he had neglected all these years. He only provides for her sporadically when family and friends intervened. I have been the one taking all aspects of care for my daughter and will like to have full custody of her. What are my chances of doing that and I want the divorce uncontested.

  16. Hi Madam,
    I am a Nigerian and got married 5years outside Nigeria to a foreigner in her country where i had worked and lived for some time.She agreed to return and live in Nigeria with me once we get married which she did. Some months after coming to Nigeria she travelled to spend Christmas and new year with her family and when it was time for her to return she told me she wanted to spend more time with them in her country.This was just 6months into the marriage.She ended up spending 2 years in her country during which i would travel 2 times a year to spend time with her.During the second year she was in her country i discovered that she had been having affairs with 2 different people at different times so i addressed this with her with clear evidence which i got from her phone she gave me to fix for her in Nigeria during one of my trips to see her.I told her i would be heading for a divorce considering her action and it would be impossible for us to continue the long distance marriage.She begged and told me it was all mistakes and she is ready to come back to Nigeria to live with me.She came back 3months after and now stayed in Nigeria for about 2 years during which she has travelled to her country for vacation 2 times.Her last travel in december , when it was time for her to return she came up with the same story of wanting to spend more time in her country and i asked her when she will be back and also for he to note that this time i would not accept a remote marriage , considering what she did years back.She told me she has no return date and i feel it’s clear that she is not really interested in the marriage and probably wasting my time.For me i don’t intend to stay in the marriage and considering a divorce based on the fact that she committed adultery and after i thought we could work things out she has returned to same country and situation that led to the adultery the first time. I cannot live with that thought in my head and i think it’s time to move on.Also note that we don’t have kids and when i thought we were trying to make kids, she was busy taking anti-pregnancy drugs secretly. Kindly advise if i can seek for a divorce in my situation and how i can go about it , since we got married in her country and for now i am resident in Nigeria.
    Thank you.

  17. Wow this is a wonderful blog, may the almighty God continue to lift you up as you use your precious time to attends to peoples problem, Ma I got married in 2009 at Ikoyi registry, same 2009 i traveled out the country,deported to Nigeria in 2010, traveled again same 2010, got deported in 2013, traveled again in 2013, this year 2017 April my mother called me that my wife sent her divorce case file from high court lagos state demanding divorce and damages of 5 million naira, we have no child, no property, I don’t live in Nigeria, where I’m have no permanent job neither I’m legal stay. Please what can I do?

  18. Good day ma, I got married in 2007 and with agreement, my husband and I need to divorce. We got married in the registry, please where will I go and how do I go about it. Thank for you advice to come.

  19. Is there any way someone can get a divorce without getting a lawyer involved? if both parties agreed to a divorce

  20. Thanks for the response what if the woman involves don’t have money to get her own lawyer. and the husband was able to get his own lawyer

    1. She can chose not to enter an appearance or an answer if the petition does not affect her rights negatively and the court will make a ruling in her absence. However, she will have to be served all the processes

  21. How-do-you-do, just needed you to know I have added your site to my Google bookmarks because of your extraordinary blog layout. But seriously, I think your site has one of the freshest theme I’ve came across. It really helps make reading your blog a lot easier.

  22. good morning, please a friend of mine just got served divorce papers by her abusive husband. they’ve been separated for about 6 months, because she committed adultery out of frustration. the kids (2- ages 5 and 2+) have been taken by the husband but are with some relatives in the village. she wants custody of the kids but she’s afraid that her mistake might count against her. unfortunately, she never recorded all the proofs of physical assault she endured in the marriage of 7 years because she was always covering up. she just got a place of her own and has a fairly ok job while he doesn’t have any steady source of income and comes to town to search for jobs especially now that she’s no longer there to support as usual. he only sees the kids at weekends and doesn’t let her talk to the kids cos he wont pick her calls , but he has spread a lot of lies about her and is also suing the man she committed adultery with for 5million. any advice on what she should do? what should she look out for or arm herself with?
    she’s been looking for a good lawyer but don’t know any in Rivers state.
    awaitin your prompt reply, please.

  23. forgot to mention that she has since broken up every form of communication with the man that has led to this mess, she confessed tearfully to him when she realized the error of her ways not that he caught her, she said she just felt guilty especially since she’s not that type of person. he married her as a virgin at 29 , but he still insists on suing the man, perhaps out of greed. she doesn’t have any proof of infidelity on his part but feels he’s guilty too because of series of infection, his insistence on painful anal sex, and sex even few days after she gave birth. he doesn’t provide much financially, just little when she insists and raises her voice or gets beaten. he uses her money for Ponzi schemes and has humiliated her in front of his people ever since she confessed to this affair that lasted about 4 months. she actually begged and begged but he insisted she should leave while he cunningly took the kids away before she got back from work. it’s been tough for her especially in a country like Nigeria where a woman never has a say, more especially, when she commits adultery. the double standards you guys have in Africa is so disconcerting. I blame her for not getting out sooner or letting people know how bad things were in the marriage before she made the mistake and then confessing.
    but please she needs help, she needs her kids even without alimony.
    do you see any ray of hope of her getting custody? don’t know what holds in Nigeria and your blog is the most updated I’ve seen so far. spent all night yday searching for divorce lawyers in Rivers |state but the contacts provided are not working.

    1. There are no double standards in a court of law.Send me an email at lesleyagams@yahoo.com and I will connect her to a lawyer in Port Harcourt. Custody is decided based on the best interest of the children, not on who or if either party commits adultery

  24. Good day ma
    Please ma how do I get a divorce, the man i got married to in federal high Court Abuja 2013 is already married to a white woman in 2011 in her country and they have a child of 4 years which I also have a child of 3years for him we have not been staying together since 2013 but he do come to my family house to see our child, I have a picture of their wedding ceremony as evidence

  25. Hi ma,

    Am a Nigerian but I am living outside Nigeria
    It happened that I met a Lady online dating site and we started a relationship that led to a church wedding at the registry Nigeria 3 months ago. After few weeks we left Nigeria but getting to the country where am residing my wife started misbehaving, beating me bitting me several times, receiving strange calls from men in my presence and going out in the night, at times she does not cook for me neither allow me to have sex with her. I had tried to report her to her family but they could not control her from distance, now am fed up I want to divorce because my life is under danger, I cannot control her at all and she had warned me that I should not report her to any one again that if I do so someone will die.
    How can I handle this case because we did the wedding in Nigeria and presently we’re not in Nigeria. For now I am very vigilant and allowing her to do whatever she likes to safe my life.
    I need an advise to get about this issue.

    1. You are going to have to wait at least a year before you can file for a divorce in Nigeria. However, you may be able to file for a divorce where you live, a Nigerian divorce certificate is valid. Ask a local lawyer. And good luck

  26. What are the process seeking divorce in the customary court. do the person need a lawyer? or he need to just walk into the customary court to get a form

  27. I need to understand my rights to know where my ex wife who filed for divorce keeps my children when they are with her during school session and why she has not changed her name since the divorce became absolute but goes around social media with my surname pretending we are married

  28. Good morning ma, pls I need ur help and now in a very tight situation at present! My man and I did registry on march this yr as well as, introduction on April! The church and engagement was schedule for November this yr… But something strange happened, my husband had a female​ child out of wedlock with a lady(though nothing has been done concerning introduction or any form of marriage till now bcos the lady’s parent are not interested in allowing my husband to marry the lady which makes them to go their separate ways but my husband never cease in taking responsibility for the child.) But on May this yr my husband went to check on the welfare of the child, the lady refused access on seeing their daughter that day which made him to stay there the following day, as a result of that my husband accidentally had sex with her which result in another 6mth pregnancy now! My husband got to knw that toward September ending while he was seriously making preparation for our wedding… This caused a lot of serious damages to me especially, bcos the family of the said lady told my husband in a meeting they had was, 1. Since he has succeeded in impregnating her the second time, that automatically makes her my husband wife and an undertaken is needed from my husband stating that he is interested in marrying the lady. But my husband refused to do that! 2. He was strictly warned never to make an attempt of doing his marriage with me! ( this lady’s family took a step and issues a letter from one lawyer to stop all activities concerning our wedding, the letter was served to the local government and the church we intended doing the wedding .. Unfortunately we couldn’t do the wedding!!!) This is where the problem lies! 1. My parent are pastor and is going to be a slap on them if my husband decide to marry the lady too 2. My mother.- in- law is insisting my husband should​ marry the lady! (She is been sentimental bcos they are both from same village) and divorce me if there is a way to do that! 3. The lady family are also insisting my husband should marry the lady at registry ( they are not aware my husband has already done registry with me) though pregnancy scan was done which shows that there is different of 16days which means my husband may or may not be the true father! And the only viable option is to wait till the baby is born and a DNA is done to established our fact.
    At this junction I am confused because my husband loves me so much and he is still insisting he can’t marry the lady after waiting for more than 5yrs whether he mum will change her mind towards her daughter relationship with him but ended up being a waste! He said he can never marry the lady expect to take responsibilities of the children and go ahead in marrying me!!! They are saying that lady is the owner of my husband bcos she bore for him(but no legal binding between the lady and my husband, no introduction, no engagement, no church, no registry) but already! My husband and I av done introduction with registry remaining only engagement!
    I am still in my parent house, I couldn’t be with my husband bcos of the cancelation of the wedding and no engagement has been done.
    My questions is who is the owner of my husband between I and the lady?
    2. What can be done to resolve this issues?
    3. What step can be taken to accept only the children but not the mother bcos that is my husband wish
    4. How can we go about it to settle this matter at once…
    Bcos it will be a waste of time if my husband and I are to wait until she deliver and DNA is done, that is practically a waste of years! What can we do to avert this time wasting procedure….
    Waiting for ur reply ma thanks and God bless

  29. Good evening ma’am , please is there any provision in lagos state to help a poor young lady who has been abandoned by her husband for 3yrs and decides to go for a divorce in order to have a fresh start.

  30. hello ma, I have married for nine years + no issue.my hus did not care abt having one, we leave separate during the time but he come on weekends, he don’t not care abt me even there is no friendly or love between us. he doesn’t tell me anting abt his movement, he don’t pick my calls in d night once he is in area even said I love his family, just try to condemn me any I do in house. I want a divorce. I left his house Jan this year.

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