About

Hi. My name is Lesley and I’m a Writer.

There are so many reasons I write. I write to document the her-stories and histories of my people. I write to understand something that I would otherwise only glimpse from the corner of my eye. I write to entertain, sometimes myself and sometimes others. I write to clarify the voices of all the characters that inhabit my imagination. I’ve published  a couple of essays, short stories and poems. Being published still gives me a thrill. I’ve been published by Brittle Paper, Praxis Online, MoJo, UmuAka Times, THisDay and Above Whispers . Like someone told me once “You have the gift of gab,” I chose to take it as a compliment.

There is power in the word.

I’ve been sharing personal and professional stories, insight and opinion on this blog since 2011. I’d like to thank each of the unique followers that signed up to receive my posts in their inbox. Your feedback and comments have kept  me going all these years. Thank you, you’ve been an amazing audience. It was because of you Ms. Magazine featured my sisters Spectra, Minna Salami and I as feminist bloggers to watch here.

Because I practiced  women’s and family law in Nigeria for over thirty years I wrote a lot about divorce, custody, settlement and maintenance in Nigeria. I was one of the first lawyers to start a blog. I explained Child Custody in Nigeria here, How to Get A Divorce in Nigeria here and What To Do Before Getting A Divorce hereAnd answered some of the most frequently asked questions about divorce and child custody. Who owns the child? Can I get alimony in Nigeria? Is domestic violence grounds for divorce under Nigerian law? Should I get a prenuptial agreement? 

Did you know that a pre-nup can protect a woman’s assets from a profligate or fraudulent husband? Yeah. I highly recommend it. When some young women demur, I ask them if they really want to risk their hard earned assets and financial independence just because they are getting married. And I never trust anyone that says “If you love me you won’t ask for a prenup,” my response is always “If you love me you would give it to me.” My experience corroborates the experts, financial problems are the single biggest cause of marital conflict. After sex that is.

I’ve spoke on numerous radio and television shows about women, women’s rights, family law and child custody. Here is one on prenuptial agreements that was on BBC Radio. I had clients from around the world including A-List female CEO’s, working class women and indigent children like Wasila Umar.

I didn’t only represent women in court. I found a strong connection with the women of my home land in South East Nigeria and had the privilege of helping hundreds of women across the five south eastern states develop the various skills they needed to participate actively in a modern economy and democracy.  I also set up the first DV shelter  in Owerri in 2002 in response to high levels of VAW.  And in 2017 I convened #NGWomen4Peace in response to the rising insecurity across Nigeria. I am a part of Nigerian Community of Practice on Mass Atrocities.

My work with women led me to the international humanitarian sector in 2006 for a brief but brilliant stint as country director for couple of international NGOs. Unfortunately, I found the workplace as inhospitable as my equally brief experiences with the public and private sectors had been. Still, the experience broadened my knowledge and deepened my skills. Working with traumatised women is a traumatic experience and I became increasingly interested in well being and metal health issues. I started to integrate my legal expertise with the psychological insights I gained to literally coach my clients through what were often emotionally turbulent legal proceedings.

Its never too early or too late to start protecting yourself, your mental health and your assets from a potentially abusive, exploitative or toxic marriage, or any other kind of personal or professional relationship. Meanwhile, since you have come this far, you should note that under Nigerian law property ownership’s established by strict proof, in other words the name on the purchase receipt or invoice owns the property. Why do you think those kind of men make you buy the car, house or television in their name only? At least if both your names appear on the receipt a lawyer can make a case for settlement of marital property in the event of a divorce or separation.

Divorce is rough. I have not had a new client in the past 6 years that has not called me on Christmas day, because of some crisis. Holidays are particularly rough for divorcing couple. You are re-negotiating a new normal, the dysfunctional dynamics of power-over based relationships do not cease simply because you filed for a divorce. Abusive behaviour can continue years after a divorce, even when the children are grown. Abusers will abuse. And they often pick their victims every carefully. When one of my clients  first came to me she was so overwhelmed from deliberate gaslighting and emotional blackmail she couldn’t finish one sentence without apologising for existing. We worked together for months, slowly building her emotional and financial resistance before filing proceedings.

Are you in an abusive marriage or relationship? Are there things your spouse does that make you uncomfortable but you don’t know the legal implications? Is you husband cheating on you? How can you tell? What can you do? Does your husband lock you out of the house or your small business or small shop after quarrel? Or does he owe you  or your business huge amounts of money that he refuses to pay even when he can? Are you wondering if you have grounds for divorce? Is your marriage a statutory marriage? In Nigeria you still have to convince a judge a marriage has broken down irretrievably to get a divorce. ‘Irreconcilable differences’ and ‘incompatibility’ are not grounds for divorce under our statutory law.

Or maybe you’re not married yet but you’re thinking about it. Prevention is better than cure, right? How will go about making the biggest decision of your life? What questions are you asking? Your decision will make or break you. It will change your destiny. How can you protect your self from fraudsters and abusers? What are safe and acceptable boundaries in a relationship? What is abuse?  How can you tell if someone might be abusive? Every single client I have worked with in 30 years of practice has told me she saw warning signs early in the relationship but thought it would pass or she could deal with it. Abusers and victims have a profile and abusers and victims can be male or female. Maybe you’ve noticed some red flags but your family is insisting its just normal jitters and you need a coach who understands matrimonial law and human nature.

Statutory marriages are more popular than ever in Nigeria. They do provide women and children with greater protection and equity in marriage than most customary laws. On the other hand, statutory marriages are harder to get out of. Customary marriages are much easier to dissolve which is probably why wise Nigerian women insist on a court registry wedding, sometimes to the exclusion of the customary rites which most people fulfil anyway. You can find out how to register a statutory marriage in Nigeria right here. That certificate makes the spouses automatically each others next of kin if either of them dies intestate, and this applies even if they are in court awaiting a decree absolut when one of them dies. It does not give either of them property rights over the other. So concede you’re property rights. No, not even for love, especially not for love. How can you protect your assets?

The pen is mightier than the sword, they say. I intend to use words to change human relationships especially intimate relationships for the better whatever the outcome.

If you can’t find the answer questions on my blog, drop a comment on the post. I will respond. For a deeper analysis I’m available for private chat by phone or Skype for as low as NGN50,000 for 20 minutes.  Please feel free to email lesleyagams@yahoo.com to book an appointment.

Email before International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women November 24, 2020 and get your first 20 minute consultation for free. 

 

 

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Writer. Wanderer. Wild Woman

 

“Bone by bone, hair by hair, Wild Woman comes back. Through night dreams, through events half understood and half remembered…”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

 

 

 

 

“If you have yet to be called an incorrigable, defiant woman,
don’t worry, there is still time”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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28 thoughts on “About

  1. I will like to seek some legal advise in family law please:
    I had a Court Wedding in Nigeria in 2003 and had a child out of the weeding. I left for the UK in 2004 and visit frequently. The relationship nosedived since 2006 when my wife moved out of the home and gave no forwarding address. All efforts to locate her had been unsuccessful. I have met with her mum many times and other members of the family who denied knowledge of her whereabouts. I took the case to the Child Welfare Service in Nigeria in 2011 who wrote to the last known address (the mum’s) inviting my wife, she did not turn up, her mum did and gave Service her daughter phone number. The number was never answered.
    At this time I am contemplating filling for child access/custody either alone or with divorce.
    How will you advise this be approached for the best outcome. Our daughter is now seven. I permanently reside in the UK.

    1. Dear Ade,

      Unless you have an address or location for your wife its hard to do anything. Are you sure she’s even in Nigeria?

      It’s not important why your marriage crashed. You have rights to access or visit your child unless a court stripes you of them.

      Perhaps a private investigator can help you locate them. Meanwhile stay in touch with your wife’s family. Your child may get in touch someday and its good for her to know you cared.

      Best of luck

      Lesley.

  2. Hello Madam, I would appreciate your take on a family issue I have at the moment. Myself and my ex got married Apr 2009. The marriage has produced two wonderful kids. Our first daughter is Three Years Old while our second, a boy, is a Year plus. My ex moved out of our home sometime Oct 2011 after some marital dispute and in January 2012 I got a call from child welfare officials that my ex complained that i wasn’t providing for the children’s upkeep. I honored their invitation and explained to them that i was already providing for them by crediting her acct on a monthly basis as soon as she moved out. The welfare officers concurred at the time after checking the facts. after some persuasion, I was asked to increase the monthly stipend. I agreed but requested that I shud be allowed to have access to my kids. We then signed off a Note of Understanding stating that I will pay a monthly stipend, take full responsibility for schooling and medical bills. the agreement allowed our first born to spend the last weekend of every month with me. This arrangement lasted only three months after which she refused to release our daughter to spend the last weekend with me as was agreed. I complained to the Welfare Officers who brokered the arrangement then but they seemed powerless in enforcing the agreement. I was then advised to withhold the upkeep I pay until she agrees to release our daughter to me as agreed. Now, by some scheming on the part of my ex, the same welfare officers are now harassing me all over the place that I must pay the backlog of upkeep money. I explained to them that I had to problem paying but I shud be granted access to my children as was agreed. they have refused. I would appreciate your advise on the way forward to enforcing my rights. Please note that, while my ex refused to release our daughter, I still pay her school fees and medical bill. Kindly advice. shoodeen@yahoo.com

    1. The danger of withholding child payments has become evident to you. If you pay the back log and she still refuses to let you see your children you should petition the court to make a formal order on custody. High Court if you married in the registry, the Catholic or the Anglican Church and Customary court if you had a traditional wedding or went to any other church.

  3. Hello, I got married to my wife in 2008 in a catholic church in my village. A marriage certificate was issued which is with me. Currently, we have 2 kids together.
    Just this Monday, my wife forced her way to my company vault against the wish of my staff(my business outfit that am a director) and made away with d sum of 630,150naira. And she travelled to her village. I have pleaded with her to return the money, but she is adamant. According to her, she is not coming back. Just this night, we were exchanging short messages on mobile, she willingly offered that we divorce so she can live her life the way she feels like. Personally, I am pleased to start a divorce proceedings as well. Pls could u advise me?

  4. Hi, stumbled on one of your posts and found it really really helpfull. I was married for almost five years and I have been seperated for almost a year.(I moved out) We have a four year old son. Since we have been seperated he has not communicated or contributed towards our sons upkeep. I am planning on filing for divorce citing irreconsilable differences(my husband is an alchoholic and was emotionally abusive). Could you kindly reccomend a lawyer(lagos based) who can assist with securing full custody of my son. I will not be seeking any sort of child support or alimony. Please assist. Thank you.

  5. Hi! Your blog is such an amazing find. Pls I need your imput.. I was married for almost 5 years and I moved out almost a year ago( my husband is an alchoholic and was emotionally abusive) I moved out with my 4 year old son. My husband has not communicated or made any financial contributions towards my son’s upkeed since we moved out. I intend to file for divorce citing irreconcilable differences and will be filing fo full custody of my child also. Is it possible for you to recommend a lawyer or law firm(based in lagos) that can assist with my case. Thank you so much.

  6. This blog helps a great deal. Pls can u link me 2 a private investigator in abuja. I would really be grateful

  7. I ve a question about Nigeria divorce. I was separated for like 9yrs now I ddnt do any divorce I did traditional n church wedding I want to remarry now how do I go abt the divorce am a woman need ur urgent reply thx

    1. Did you register with the local government? Did the church give you a registry certificate? If not then you have traditional marriage or customary marriage and all that is necessary is to file with a customary court and repay the bride price. Unfortunately I am not as knowledgeable about customary laws all over Nigeria and they differ from state to state. The tribal laws of the wife home town apply in most cases

  8. Am new here; it’s wonderful what I see. I would like to share my experience in marriage too if that’s okay and safe.

  9. Hi. Just went through your blog and I must commend the work you do here. I would like to make an enquiry about something. I got married traditionally to my husband who is based outside the country in 2014. I got pregnant almost immediately and we have a son. I endured endured both emotional, verbal and physical abuse from him for about 6 months before he returned back to base.. he doesn’t pick my calls or send money for the baby’s upkeep and has been away for over one year now. I have decided to ask my parents to return his bride price but want to keep my child and request that he provides for him. please, how do I go about it? I’m still in th higher institution and there’s very little I can do to support my baby and I. thanks

    1. return his bride price as soon as possible, he can’t take the baby from you before 7 or 8 years and he will still have to prove he can be a better parent so won’t be easy

  10. I got married two years ago,I don’t love my wife but my mum wanted her cos of her tribe,I loved someone else but my family never wanted that one,I married the one they wanted there have not been love till today am planing of divorcing her cos the other girl have a daughter now for me who is 6months old,and my wife baby with me is one year old,I hate my wife so much,have never been happy since I got married till today..pls advice me

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