Pre-nuptial agreements (more popularly known as ‘pre-nups’) are agreements entered into by couples before they formally get married which set out how they will financially arrange their affairs during their marriage, and more importantly how their finances will be dealt with in the unfortunate event of a divorce.
The simple answer to this is under Nigerian law is, yes they are generally valid.
There is currently no law in Nigeria, which lays out the process and procedure for how pre-nups should be created. The final decision on the settlement of assets and property upon dissolution of a marriage rests with the Judge, however, in Section 72(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, the law states that –
‘the court may…make such order as the court considers just and equitable with respect to the application for the benefit of all or any of the parties to, and the children of, the marriage of the whole or part of property dealt with by ante‐nuptial or post‐nuptial settlements on the parties to the marriage, or either of them’
The net result of that provision in our opinion is that a pre-nuptial agreement would be one of the things the judge would look at when making a settlement order, and if in the court’s opinion, the agreement is just and equitable, it will be upheld.
So if you are contemplating marriage, and considering whether or not to get a pre-nup, then you should know that under Nigerian law, there is nothing preventing you from entering into such an agreement. However as with all agreements, the strength and the validity of the agreement really lies with how the agreement is drafted and it is imperative that in drafting such an important agreement parties use lawyers who know what they are doing!
If you are contemplating getting a pre-nuptial agreement before you get married, then you should speak to a lawyer specialising in family law in Nigeria.
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