Grounds for divorce in Nigeria

03 Nov Grounds for Divorce in Nigeria

 Grounds for Divorce in Nigeria

Divorce in Nigeria is not always a fun topic; in fact, most people shy away from it and see it divorce as a taboo topic. Unfortunately, it is the reality of the world we live in that some couples after getting married will decide for whatever reason that they do not want to carry on with their marriage and want a divorce. This post will discuss the grounds for divorce in Nigeria.

Our job at LawPàdí is to give you the information you need on what to do when you find yourself in unfortunate situations, including marriages, which you would like to end by way of a divorce.

The law is clear on the grounds for divorce in Nigeria, the first and most important thing is that the marriage must be at least 2 years old, if it is not, and you would like to get a divorce, you will have to go through another route called ‘annulment’ (annulment will be dealt with in a separate article). If it is over 2 years, then a divorce can be obtained. There is technically only one ground for a divorce – irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This can be proved through one of the below:

  • Your spouse has wilfully and persistently refused to consummate the marriage- this basically is when one party has refused the other party’s sexual advances since the marriage ceremony, and as a result they have not had sex as man and wife.
  • Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him/her
  • Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you can’t reasonably be expected to live with him/her (this includes acts of rape, sodomy, habitual drunkenness/intoxication, frequent crime convictions, refusal to pay maintenance etc)
  • Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding your case for divorce – desertion in this case is basically when the other party has abandoned the marriage.
  • You have both lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years and you both want a divorce – agreement of both parties is necessary for this ground to be used.
  • You have both lived apart for a continuous period of at least three years immediately preceding your case for divorce
  • Your spouse has for a period of not less than one year, failed to comply with a decree or restitution of conjugal rights made by a court – this is when one party has gone to court previously to seek an order for the other party to accede to the party’s request for his/her marital rights pertaining to sex.
  • Your spouse has been absent long enough to be legally presumed dead (7 years) – under the Evidence Act, when someone is missing for up to 7 years, he/she can legally be presumed dead under the law.


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We hope you have found this information helpfulPlease note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.



If you are interested in proceeding with a divorce, you may contact us and schedule a free initial consultation with a divorce expert.

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