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How To File A Divorce In Nigeria 

In Nigeria, filing a divorce is an emotionally challenging procedure which involves legal procedures whereby the party that wants to file for divorce is suing the other spouse to court. The spouse who goes to court to file for divorce is known as the petitioner, while the other spouse would be referred to as the respondent.

When a marriage reaches the point of breakdown, understanding how to file a divorce is important. In this article we will look into how to file a divorce In Nigeria. Read also: How To Convert Airtime To Cash In Nigeria

How To File A Divorce In Nigeria 

You cannot get divorce except through the court. High Court of a state in Nigeria has the power to hear and determine divorce cases. You can only file for divorce in the High Court of a state. These are the steps you should take if you are planning to file for divorce in Nigeria.

1.Consult with a Lawyer

Before filing a divorce, telling a lawyer about the issues is the first step you should boldly take incase any legel issues arises. In Nigeria before you file for divorce you are to consult a lawyer and tell the lawyer whatever the issues you are dealing with. Once you have told the lawyer, there are questions the lawyer will ask and would also help you answer and also advice you on chance of success of filing for divorce. It’s important you meet with a lawyer who deals in family law in other to guide you through the process.

2. Grounds for Divorce

In Nigeria, to prove that the marriage has broken down there must be a grounds that the marriage has really broken down. You must understand the grounds before filing a divorce In Nigeria, the petitioner must satisfy the conditions of Section 15(2) (a) – (h) of the Matrimonial Causes Act. 

Under Section 15 (2) (a) – (h) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, the petitioner must prove at least one of the facts below before the court can grant a Petition for divorce.

(A.)That since the marriage the Respondent has behaved in such a manner that the Petitioner cannot longer live with the Respondent. That the Respondent commit so many things that the petitioner can’t tolerate such as: Violence, adultery, drunkenness, strange or reckless behaviours, failure to provide financial support, etc. 

(B.) That both parties to the marriage have lived apart for a long period of time at least two (2) years before the petitioner presented the divorce and the Respondent does not agree to a decree for solution that is granted by the court.

(C.) That since the marriage, the Respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner cannot cope to live with the respondent. Evidence to prove adultery will be helpful but the person he committed the adultery with must be identified.

(D.) That the other party in the marriage has been absent from the Petitioner for a long period of time and has to provide reasonable grounds for thinking that the Respondent is dead or missing. Before the court will accept the presumption of death, the person must have been absent for up to seven (7) years.

(E.) That the other party in the marriage has for a period of not less than one (1) year has failed to agree with a decree of rights made under this Act.

(F.) That the Respondent occurs to change their religion, and it has become impossible for the couple to live together due to their religious differences.

The court will give an order to the couple due to the proof that has been laid down by the petitioner to the Respondent to separate the couple.

3. Petition 

The divorce process starts with filing a petition. The only courts that has the power to hear and make decisions on filing for divorce is the High Court of any state of the Federation. The High Court of a State makes an order for maintenance, for matrimonial causes in Nigeria, regardless of the location the parties reside.

The petition states one’s case, who you got married to, facts about the ground for the divorce, year of marriage, what you want from the divorce, and any evidence to back it up. Once the document has been filled, it is given a file number. The petition is served on the Respondent, who is to reply to the petition within a given time.

4. Two Years Rule

The Matrimonial Causes Act says that no person can file a divorce petition for any marriage below two years except if the courts agrees to it. This rule is known as the two-year rule provided for under Section 30 of MCA  states that proceedings for a decree of dissolution of marriage shall not be instituted within two years after the date of the marriage except by the leave of court”. The court will not grant leave except on the ground that to refuse to grant the leave. This leave will only be granted if in the opinion of the judge not granting such a leave will cause a punishment to a party to the marriage. Where a marriage is not up to two years and there is no evidence to prove there is going to be a punishment to be suffered by either party to the marriage, in other to avoid punishment it is advisable that a divorce case should not be brought before the court.

5. Divorce’s Pertition

The divorce process begins with one party, who is known as the petitioner, filing a petition for divorce at the High Court in the state where either spouse stays or where the marriage was taken place. The petition must gives reasons for the divorce and also provides details about the marriage, including the names of the parties, date of marriage, and any children from the marriage. The petitioner must also include relevant documents, such as the marriage certificate and any evidence that will support to prove the ground for the divorce.

6. Services 

After filing the divorce petition, the petition with other documents must be brought by a lawyer to the  Respondent. The respondent then has a specific period of time within 28 days to respond to the petition. If the respondent is refusing to accept the service of the petition on him, the petitioner through his/her lawyer can file an application in court to seek the permission of the judge to serve by all means, which include sending it to the respondent by electronic means or to the house.

7. Custody & Settlements 

Custody must be considered in a divorce. A court hearing a divorce petition is to make orders in respect to the children of the marriage, the court will make orders on who will have custody of the children after the divorce and how school fees of the children will be paid. The court must make an order concerning the family property, if a divorce case involves a matter of custody of children and settlement of properties, the court must encourage and order parties to resolve such issues first and report back to the court. If the party failed to agree on anything on what the Judge has said, the judge will decide such issues based on evidence and lay best interest for the children.

8. Judgment 

After the court has heard the evidence of the parties, the court will give its judgment on the evidence that has been brought to the court, and If the judge is convinced by what he saw and read, then they will be given a temporary divorce which can be ended by you and your spouse within three months. This temporary divorce is called Order Nisi.

After three months, if you and your spouse has taken no step to end the temporary divorce, then you can apply to the court for a permanent divorce. The permanent divorce is known as Decree absolute. Once the court grants the decree absolute your marriage with your spouse will permanently end.


How can I get divorce immediately in Nigeria?

Before you can file a divorce you must go to the High Court of state In Nigeria, where they have the power to hear and determine divorce case. You cannot file a divorce except through court.

Can I file for divorce without a lawyer in Nigeria?

Divorce in Nigeria is not granted by a way of right. Therefore, the process must follow or abide by the strict procedures of the court and the rules governing the proceedings. A legel practitioner is required to respond to a divorce petition.


Filing a divorce in Nigeria is a decision often caused my emotional distress and some challenges. Having the support and guidance can help you know the legal aspects and provide some peace of mind during this difficult time. Understanding the grounds for divorce, and the specific procedures involved will ensure you a smooth and legally valid dissolution of marriage and it is important you consult with a qualified family law who can guide you through this process.

If you follow the legal procedures, you can bring an end to a marriage that is no longer reasonable and move towards a new chapter in your life.

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Faith Oluwa

Faith is a content and creative writer with a passion for storytelling and a natural flair for compelling content who is bursting with talent and ready to make her mark in the world of writing. She has all the skills necessary to succeed in this competitive field.View Author posts