AN OVERVIEW OF MATRIMONIAL RELIEFS IN NIGERIA

In the general legal term, matrimonial reliefs are the compensations, aids, protections or redress ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to avert unfair or unjust acts in a voluntary or an involuntary marriage of a man and a woman.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

5/20/2022 3 min read

AN OVERVIEW OF MATRIMONIAL RELIEFS IN NIGERIA

Culturally, marriage is a union of either a man with one or many women, or a union of a woman with a man or many men.

In the legal context, it is a union of a man and a woman. This is a union ordained by God. Nevertheless, there are many acts and laws that guide the act and conducts of marriages, they include; Marriage Act, 2004, Matrimonial Causes Act, 2004 and Matrimonial Causes Rules of 1983. It is to be noted that these acts and rule apply to a monogamous marriage that is a voluntary union and not a customary or Islamic marriage.

In the general legal term, matrimonial reliefs are the compensations, aids, protections or redress ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to avert unfair or unjust acts in a voluntary or an involuntary marriage of a man and a woman.

In a nutshell, we will be discussing the some of the most relevant reliefs which are obtainable in a marriage conducted under the Matrimonial Causes Acts and other related Acts and Laws.

1. Dissolution of marriage: This is the most widely know relief in a marriage. It is ordinarily called “Divorce”. According to the section 15 (1) of Matrimonial Causes Act, 2004, inter alia, the only ground by which a marriage contracted under the Act can be dissolved is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. In this hand and in the determination of an irretrievably broken down marriage, subsection 2 of section 15 (ibid) states as follows, among other grounds; the respondent must have willfully and persistently refused to consummate the marriage, or, that the respondent had committed adultery, thirdly, that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for at least one year.

It is worthy of note that by section 30(1) of the above Act, the course to dissolve a marriage cannot be instituted in a court wherein the marriage has not lasted for two years unless the leave of court is sought and obtained. And it must be demonstrated that there have been an extreme and exceptional hardship on the part of the petitioner.

2. Nullification of marriage: A void marriage is void ab initio. The nullification of a marriage is sought in a court when a marriage is either void or voidable. Wherein a marriage is void, any party who is interested in the case can institute an action in court to declare the marriage void, nevertheless, a void marriage remains void even when not institute in court. However, where a marriage is voidable, it is but only the party to the marriage can institute an action in court for the nullification of the marriage. Notwithstanding the above encapsulations, some of the few thing that will make a marriage void or voidable are; that the respondent contracted a customary marriage with another person after a marriage under the Act, that the consent of any other parties was not sought, that either of the parties is not within the marriageable age, that the parties did not contract the marriage under the law of the land.

3. Judicial separation: This is a judicial order given by the court to parties in a marriage who either do not want to live together nor dissolve their marriage. This is done so that parties can be given a reasonable time to reason whether to continue with the marriage, though the marriage is still valid.

4. Restitution of conjugal rights: Restitution in this instance depicts the restoration of illegally separated parties in a marriage to their prior condition. A court of jurisdiction grants this order granted to bring together parties to a marriage that has been living apart without the due court order. The court would make this order if it is established that the petitioner requires that its conjugal rights be restituted.

Conclusively, by section 2 (1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, the only court that has jurisdiction to any of the proceedings above is the High Court of a State. However, where the high court orders for maintenance of a party in the marriage, the court of summary jurisdiction which is the magistrate court can enforce it.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

E-MAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

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