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Understanding the Divorce Process in Lagos, Nigeria

Question from Bol, Understanding the Divorce Process in Lagos, Nigeria

Answer from AI:

The process of obtaining a divorce in Lagos, Nigeria, can be complex and requires a clear understanding of the legal framework. The Nigerian legal system, particularly in Lagos, follows the Matrimonial Causes Act, which outlines the grounds for divorce and the procedural steps involved. This guide aims to provide a general overview of the divorce process in Lagos, Nigeria, but it’s important to consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific situation.

Grounds for Divorce

Under the Matrimonial Causes Act, a marriage can be dissolved if it is proven that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. There are several grounds for claiming an irretrievable breakdown, including but not limited to:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding the filing of the petition
  • Intolerable behavior
  • Separation for a continuous period of at least two years at the time of filing the petition
  • Failure to comply with a court order regarding marriage or family obligations

Steps in the Divorce Process

The divorce process in Lagos typically involves the following steps:

  1. Filing a Petition: The process begins with one spouse (the petitioner) filing a petition for divorce in a High Court of Lagos State. The petition must state the grounds for divorce and provide evidence to support the claim of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
  2. Serving the Petition: Once the petition is filed, it must be formally served on the other spouse (the respondent), giving them an opportunity to respond. The respondent can either agree to the divorce or contest it.
  3. Attending Court Hearings: If the divorce is contested, both parties will need to attend court hearings. During these hearings, evidence is presented, and both spouses may be required to testify.
  4. Issuance of Decree Nisi: If the court is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, it will issue a decree nisi. This is a provisional decree of divorce.
  5. Issuance of Decree Absolute: After a period of time (usually six weeks after the decree nisi), the petitioner can apply for a decree absolute, which formally dissolves the marriage.

Important Considerations

  • Legal Representation: Given the complexities involved in the divorce process, it is advisable to seek legal representation. A lawyer can help navigate the legal system, provide advice on the best course of action, and represent your interests in court.
  • Child Custody and Support: If there are children involved, the court will also make orders regarding custody, visitation rights, and child support as part of the divorce proceedings.
  • Property and Financial Settlements: The division of property and any financial settlements, including alimony, will also be determined during the divorce process.


The divorce process in Lagos, Nigeria, is governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act and involves several steps, from filing a petition to the issuance of a decree absolute. Due to the legal complexities and the potential for contested proceedings, it is strongly recommended to seek legal advice from a professional who is familiar with Nigerian family law. This guide provides a general overview, but each divorce case is unique and requires personalized legal assistance.

For more detailed information on the Matrimonial Causes Act and divorce proceedings in Nigeria, you may visit the Nigerian Law website. Remember, this information is not a substitute for professional legal advice.

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