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How To Get A Divorce In Lagos Nigeria: Step By Step Guide Of Filing For, Getting Divorce In Nigeria & Dissolve A Troubled Marriage

how to get a divorce in nigeria

How To Go About Getting A Divorce In Nigeria; Cost And Process Involved In Filing For Divorce For Marriage Dissolution

By Nwogbo Chibuike Emmanuel,

The truth is, all marriages cannot work. While some people have great marriages, some do not and that is the harsh truth. Thus, I won’t be giving any counsel on whether you should, or should not end your marriage. I believe if you are reading this article, your mind must have been made up on ending the matrimony with your partner. Though, divorce should be considered as a last resort ina troubling marriage.

However, I must advise that getting a divorce in Nigeria can be quite difficult and stressful, affecting your finances, living arrangements and day to day schedule, a deliberate attempt to keep contract marriages and machinations at a good low. Though, if your spouse is in support of this move, things could be a lot easier for you both. The Nigerian law however requires a lawyer to represent you in court, so I am sorry to burst your bubble if you understood you could drive on that train alone.

Nevertheless, I will be giving you relevant overviews on the divorce process, generally giving you a heads-up on what to expect on the long road to ending a marriage in Nigeria.


Like I stated earlier, the Nigerian law requires that you be represented by a lawyer in court. You need to get a good lawyer that is experienced in Family law and counsel, there are many law firms in Nigeria that are ready to pick up your case and represent you in court.


You must understand that the divorce process depends to a large degree on how the marriage was solemnized, so you must know the kind of marriage you have. Most marriages nowadays are formalized by registration (that is, you and your partner have a marriage license from a marriage registry. This kind of marriages are referred to as marriages under the act, and we shall focus more on this type of marriage on this article.


What is the reason for your divorce? Under the causes of Matrimony act in Nigeria (the law governing the divorce process in the country) there are certain stated grounds which can be used to dissolve a marriage. They include; Adultery, living apart for a long period of time (separation), habitual drunkenness or substance addict, criminal acts e.t.c. You must be certain that the reason for your divorce fits into one of this categories to efficiently prove divorce.


You must now begin to think of what you want out of the divorce. However, this largely depends on how your marriage was and the reason for your divorce. Things you should begin to consider include;

  • Who will have custody of the children? Do you want full custody or will you share custody (this is where things get a little bit ugly in divorce so be cautious not to allow this take a toll on the kids)
  • Will your spouse pay for the maintenance of the children?
  • How will your property be shared? Do you believe you are entitled to 100% of a property because you paid for them? E.t.c

These are the things you must take into consideration nevertheless, a good lawyer will be able to provide good counsel and advice on that matter. He/she would be able to elicit information from you and make sure you are covered, and ultimately get what you deserve.


  • Petition for divorce

The divorce process officially commences when your lawyer files what is known as a petition for divorce in a high court. This documents ultimately states your case- how long you have been married, where you got married, when you got married e.t.c. This is where the Lawyer begins to earn his payment (depending on your arrangement), they will file and draft all the necessary documents and ensure your petition is filed in a professional and logical manner. If you are the person filing for a divorce you are the petitioner and your spouse is the respondent.

  • STEP 2

Once your petition has been filed in the court, it will be given a file number in the family court division. The contents of that document will then be served to your significant other and his lawyer of course. Your spouse will be given a certain number of days to respond to that petition and to either agree or disagree to the dissolving of your marriage. If your partner agrees to the divorce and he/she is satisfied with the terms of divorce then the process would be even and pleasant.

  • STEP 3

Once your partner responds to the petition, the court will then hear the case in open court. At that point, if there are any witnesses that need to be called to validate any evidence they will appear in court.

  • STEP 4

If the judge is satisfied that a divorce should be granted, then it grants what is known as a ‘decree nisi’, which simply means that the marriage should be dissolved. However, you will have to wait 3 months, and then the decree nisi will become a ‘decree absolute’ which basically means you are now single again.

NOTE: The judge has the right to grant settlements to whoever, and however he finds befitting. He also has the right to annul the divorce petition, grant child custody and distribute the properties to the couples. You might say ‘I can do all the paper work myself’ but honestly you can’t, you need an experienced lawyer in the field of family law to see that you get what you deserve from the marriage. You must understand that filing for a divorce is quite different from filing taxes, it could get ugly very fast, and your partner could be coming for blood depending on the scenario.

If you have children I will advise that you send them to a relative’s house for the time being, while the divorce process is ongoing. Psychological distress is common among kids when their parents are getting a divorce, and any good lawyer will advise you to take them (your children) for therapy sessions to avoid mental breakdowns and depression.



  1. Deborah

    December 9, 2018 at 5:20 PM

    Can a couple seeking divorce use the same lawyer if they are both in agreement concerning the divorce or must each of them both petitioner and respondent get separate lawyers.

  2. Adedamola

    January 27, 2019 at 7:27 AM

    OK in a case whereby you are married for 7years and no kid and you are willing to divorce each other because age is telling on the husband and need to look for solution elsewhere so that the wife will not say his husband is doing adultery outside

  3. Shola Akin

    February 1, 2019 at 10:04 PM

    How can I get a divorce, my husband traveled out 3 months after our wedding, and the wedding is 2years now. We have been having serious issues. I want a divorce.

  4. Chioma

    April 13, 2019 at 12:49 AM

    I got married at the age of 20 in Nigeria and later moved to Europe to join him but things didn’t go well in the marriage and i have three kids for him. For seven years it’s been quarrelling, fighting, beating not doing his own responsibility to his kids. What do i do cos i need a divorce, am not interested in his properties i just need my peace.

    • Naija Gists

      April 13, 2019 at 12:53 AM

      Since you are in Europe, approach your local city office to get more information about getting divorce.

  5. Adebisi Ayeni

    May 1, 2019 at 4:08 PM

    Please I need an urgent answer even though I’m d bride and I’ve already made up my mind about the marriage. We have barely clocked 4 months since we got married for no reason he started maltreating me, abandoned me no communication of whatsoever, doesn’t call, act as if he is truly the man doesn’t want to be responsible and started assaulting me though hasn’t gotten too serious but like kicking me and slapping me. I’ve been the one carrying 97% of the expenses all because I didn’t want to look down on him since he wasn’t as educated as I am. I’ve waited for the relationship to click 6 months. Can I file for a divorce now ?

    • NG

      May 1, 2019 at 4:42 PM

      Yes you can my dear. Even at 2 month, you can divorce him. Head to a customary court in your area to get the divorce form. However, I suggest you try and be wise in handling the divorce case if you don’t want him to retaliate in a bad way. Be smart with the divorce as most divorce usually end up in a mess.

  6. peace Akudo

    July 13, 2019 at 10:51 AM

    am having a terrible marriage and I want to get a divorce but don’t know how to go about because of money. I reside in Lagos a 31 years old lady with two kids. pls help 08109861155

  7. Ayo

    March 2, 2020 at 2:34 AM

    Please I need a divorce ma/sir……this marriage is not working

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