Getting a divorce in Nigeria: Factors to consider

Under the Nigerian law, a marriage can end only in two ways: by the death of a partner or by an order of court dissolving the marriage.

In order to dissolve a marriage conducted in a licensed place of worship (church) or marriage registry in Nigeria, this procedure is a must-follow. This process may be stressful, especially in this part of the world, hence it is better to learn more about what the divorce process entails before attempting to go through it.

Before reading this article, please delete from your memory scenes from Nollywood movies where a person brings a “divorce letter” home to their spouse and tells them to sign it. That is not the procedure in Nigeria, and any such letter amounts to absolutely NOTHING.

So, the following are some of the necessary steps to take or factors to consider if you’ve made the decision to divorce your partner:

  • Consult a Lawyer: This is the most important step to take. You need a lawyer to represent you and your interests in court, give you legal counsel, show you the way to go about presenting your case, etc. This cannot be over emphasized. Consult a lawyer!
  • Grounds for divorce: Why do you want a divorce? Divorce in Nigeria is governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1990. A marriage under the Act (i.e. marriage conducted in church and/or marriage registry), as opposed to Customary marriage and Islamic marriage can be dissolved only on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The marriage is said to have broken down irretrievably if you (the petitioner) satisfy the Court of one or all the following:
  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Criminal acts
  • Living apart for a period of two or three years as the case may be
  •  Desertion for one year by the Respondent
  • That the Respondent has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot be reasonably expected to live with them
  • That the Respondent has not been heard from in the last seven years, e.t.c

You need to ensure that your reason for wanting a divorce fits into at least one of the facts aforementioned. But you need not worry too much about this. Once you consult you a lawyer, he or she will advise you on the fact upon which you are to file for the divorce.

  • What do you want out of the divorce? Custody and maintenance of children? Settlement of property (we will expound more on this in the next article), etc

Contact usThese are three of the factors you need to consider/steps you need to take before filing for divorce. For more information, please talk to us here.


This article is for people who have decided to divorce their spouses. Please note that it is not the aim of this article to encourage divorce or give advice on whether or not you should try to make your marriage work. The aim is to state as clearly as possible factors you need to consider if you have decided to get a divorce.


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