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 here. And 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 email@example.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.
Writer. Wanderer. Wild Woman
“Bone by bone, hair by hair, Wild Woman comes back. Through night dreams, through events half understood and half remembered…”
“If you have yet to be called an incorrigable, defiant woman,
don’t worry, there is still time”
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