Here in this article, we are going to bring to you information on cost of getting a divorce in Nigeria. We hope you find this invaluable.
For every good or bad choice we make, including who we choose to spend the rest of our lives with, there are consequences.
If for some reasons, the blissful marriage goes awry and a decision has been made to get a divorce, a price also comes with that decision.
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What Is Divorce?
Divorce also means dissolution of marriage, it is the process of bringing a marriage to an end. This entails more than living apart, it involves being separated legally by a Judge in a court of competent jurisdiction.
One can be liable to bigamy, a criminal offence by getting married to an individual who is not legally divorced. It is an arduous phase of one’s life depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce.
Different laws apply for different countries when it comes to divorce. In Nigeria, the Matrimonial Causes Act and Matrimonial Cause Rules govern marital matters including the process of divorce and settlement.
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The process of the divorce depends on the type of marriage conducted between the parties. The two types of marriages that exist in Nigeria are Statutory Marriage and Customary Marriage.
A Statutory Marriage is one conducted in a licensed church, registry and court. The Matrimonial Causes Act governs this kind of marriage and so all Legal actions are guided by the Act.
A customary marriage is more of a traditional marriage. It is not governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act but by the traditions of that community where the marriage took place.
Grounds for Divorce
There are grounds for divorce provided in the Matrimonial Causes Act. The major ground for divorce in Nigeria is where a marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The question is, what constitutes an irretrievable break down of marriage? The answers are contained in section 15(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act which are as follows:
- When the respondent (the party being sued) wilfully and persistently refuses to consummate the marriage.
- When the respondent commits adultery and the petitioner (the party filing for divorce) cannot tolerate it.
- When the respondent behaves in a way that the petitioner can no longer cohabit with the respondent.
- In a situation where the respondent deserts the petitioner for a continuous period of at least one year preceding the presentation of the petition.
- Where the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent does not object to a decree being granted.
- Where the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least three years immediately preceding the presentation of the parties.
- Where the other party to the marriage has, for a period of not less than one year failed to comply with a decree or restitution of conjugal rights made under this Act.
- Where the other party to the marriage has been absent from the petitioner for such time and in such circumstances as to provide reasonable grounds for presuming that he or she is dead.
Unless one or more of the aforementioned occurs, a party’s petition for divorce will be struck out of court.
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Cost of a Divorce
As earlier stated, there is a price to pay for every choice that is made including getting a divorce. To obtain a divorce in Nigeria is quite pricy so you might want to think hard before giving up on the love of your life. ‘Pricy’ here does not only mean monetary value, it covers other things which shall be discussed below.
Divorce proceedings consumes a lot of time and trust me, the courtroom is not exactly a place you want to spend three months of your life, shuffling in and out.
Sometimes the Judge may not sit even though you have been scheduled to have a hearing. When they do, your case can be pushed backwards the moment a Senior Advocates of Nigeria walks in; that is if your counsel is just a Lawyer.
The Court eventually grants you a decree nisi after about three months of hearing your matter. That Decree Nisi is a document for the dissolution of marriage, it doesn’t dissolve the marriage completely.
It is a Decree Absolute that dissolves a marriage completely and this is given three months after an issuance of a Decree Nisi.
The reason behind this ‘time wastage’ is to give the couple time to reconsider reconciliation; for Nigerian Courts, in protecting the sanctity of marriage are reluctant to separate a couple.
In total, one can spend about nothing less than a year trying to cut ties legally with another when positive goals could have been achieved.
The process of getting a divorce costs one his or her emotions especially when the separation has to do with domestic violence, infidelity or deceit.
It can be humiliating, also very hurtful and difficult to get over. This could lead to poor health conditions like nervous breakdown, depression, hypertension, trust issues, inter alia.
This will cost you a lot depending on the Lawyer handling the case for you. A Lawyer who is not renowned or one who is fresh out of Law school can charge about #250,000 to handle a divorce case.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria charges about half a million, #800,000 or a million naira because of his status and expertise.
Other times, a Lawyer also considers the financial status of a client before charging, it goes both ways. There is no standard price for divorce cases, it depends on the counsel and the client.
Cold Stone and Fan Ice both make Ice-cream, but one brand is costlier than the other even though they are both ice-creams. The same applies in Law. Some Lawyers are worth more than the other.
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Divorce is not something to resort to when an issue arises, it should be last solution on the list. Lawyers are ethically expected to advice against divorce before taking up the case; to assist in protecting the sanctity of marriage.
Although, it may not be sage to remain in some kinds of marriages, the price to pay for a divorce is and always will be pricy.
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