Overview of Divorce Rules in Nigeria

When two parties come together to live as husband and wife and raise a family, disputes are inevitable in this relationship because of the difference in culture and lifestyle of both parties before coming together to start a family. Some of these disputes and differences can be settled amicably by both parties or with the involvement of a third party.

Sadly, some of these disputes and differences can not be resolved even after all means of resolution have been introduced to settle the issue.

Most civil marriages take their marital disputes to a court for settlement or divorce as the case may be in a given circumstance. The courts are always reluctant to grant divorce at the initial process of a divorce proceeding, which is why there are guiding rules on how a divorce process should be.

The first action a court is expected to take when a divorce case is presented before it, is for the court to present an option of reconciliation through conciliation and mediation so the parties will be given the opportunity to reconcile out of court and not end up separating.  The court should not be too quick to grant a divorce to the parties. Once the conciliation process comes to an end with both parties not being able to settle, then the court can go ahead and hear the case and grant a divorce where necessary.

Generally, before a court grants a divorce prayer, it must have been proved undoubtedly that the “marriage has broken down irretrievably” and the court has tried all means possible to settle both parties but to no avail and the parties separating is the best option for them.

Furthermore, according to the matrimonial causes Act in Nigeria, a court is not allowed to grant parties a divorce where the marriage is less than two years. Where parties in a marriage that is less than two years want to file for a divorce, then such parties must first seek the leave of the court before such a proceeding can proceed.

Process of Getting a Divorce in Nigeria

The first step in getting a divorce in Nigeria is to initiate a process for divorce through an attorney in the high court of the state with competent jurisdiction. The process that is used in instituting a divorce case is through filing a petition.

The next step is for the parties to show and prove to the court through their marriage certificate that the marriage is not less than two years.

Thirdly, the parties to the divorce proceeding must be able to substantiate that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and irredeemably and the court granting them the divorce is the final and utmost option available.

The Basis for Divorce in Nigeria

The fundamental ground for divorce in Nigeria is that such a marriage has broken down irretrievably and irredeemably. This means that nothing can be done to resolve the issue between the parties and the best option is to grant the divorce.

Other basis for divorce is;

  1. Lack of care

Where the man cannot provide for the family or take care of the family, it is a good basis for divorce

  1. Sexual Relations

Where one party is denying the other party the responsibility of lovemaking in the marriage. This could be because the other party cannot satisfy the other party’s sexual needs due to mental or health issues.

  1. Unfaithfulness

Where a party is unfaithful and it becomes intolerable for the other party to handle, then it is a good ground for divorce

  1. Desertion

Where one party deserts the other party in the marriage and cannot be reached by the other party then it is a ground for divorce

  1. Deceit

A marriage that is contracted under falsehood, or undeclared facts can also be a ground for seeking divorce

  1. Domestic Violence

In a marriage where one party physically inflicts injury on the other party or emotionally abuses the party either by vocal abuse, disregard for mental state or lack of love are all grounds for divorce.

All the above mentioned are good grounds for any party in a marriage to seek for a dissolution of such marriage wherein any of these grounds or any other ground is the reason for seeking the divorce, it must be ascertained that the reason leads to the primary ground as earlier mentioned which is; the marriage has broken down irretrievably.


The steps of getting a divorce in Nigeria come with filing a petition which encompasses filling in numerous documents along with the petition in order to have your petition heard in a court of competent jurisdiction as not filing the right documents might lead to your case being struck out. In order to avoid your case being thrown out from the court, it is best you contact us to advise you according to the provision of the Law.

You can contact us for a free consultation as we have the best and most affordable family lawyer in Nigeria to provide you with all the information you need about marriage and dissolution of marriage in Nigeria.

We also provide general legal services ranging from company formation, intellectual property, family law, immigration, and a host of others in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and India.

We at eLegal Consultants look forward to meeting you and are ready to journey with you to actualize your dreams. Contact us today.

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