DIVORCE FEES IN NIGERIA
There are no fixed fees for divorce in Nigeria. Getting a divorce is an intensely personal and procedural process, and as such it varies from person to person and situation to situation, therefore if you are reading this article in order to get a definite fee for how much your divorce will cost in Nigeria, then unfortunately you will be disappointed, as that is not what this article will provide.
Rather, what we will attempt to do in this article is identify what things you need to factor in when trying to estimate how much your divorce will cost in Nigeria.
Firstly, you should know that when getting a divorce in Nigeria there are 2 sets of fees – court fees and legal fees. Under Nigerian law, in order to get a divorce, you will need to go to court, you cannot sign an agreement for a divorce. The divorce, in order to be a legal and effective one, would have to be granted by a court and there must be a court order to that effect. In order to file a divorce petition in there are certain statutory fees which have to be paid, these include filing fees etc. The exact amount will vary from State to State, however these are mandatory fees which have to be paid and are non-negotiable.
The second set of fees are the legal fees. Under the Nigerian legal system, all divorces of statutory marriages need to be dissolved in court, and therefore both parties must be represented by qualified lawyers. The lawyer in representing you will have to draft certain documents, and then attend court hearings to ask the court for a divorce. The lawyer is generally at liberty to approximate the work that will go into representing you and will then use that as a basis to quote a fee to you. The legal fees will largely depend on a number of factors and we will look at a number of them below–
The reason for the divorce – if the reason for the divorce is a contentious one, for example infidelity, the lawyer will have to provide more information to the court to back this up, and it could become complicated. It is this complexity which the lawyer will factor in when making a decision as to their fees. The less contentious the reason for divorce, the less complicated the case would be and therefore the less expensive.
The Family – generally speaking, it is less complex to file for a divorce where the couple do not have any children, where children are involved, the courts take extra care to ensure that the rights of the children are paramount, and therefore more steps are needed for the divorce, this adds to the complexity of the case and the lawyer uses this extra complexity as a basis to justify higher fees than if the couple had no children.
The Reliefs sought – when a party files for divorce it is usual that they ask the court to grant certain reliefs for instance custody of children (if any), or if the spouse wants financial maintenance going forward, this can be included in the divorce petition. Things like financial maintenance are potentially contentious issues and a lot of evidence is often needed to prove such a case, this contentiousness adds to the complexity of the case, and then has an attendant effect on the cost of the divorce. Other reliefs which can be requested could be orders for the distribution of joint property and assets etc.
The Experience of the Lawyer – lawyers, as with other professionals, get more experienced and knowledgeable based on how long they have been in practice for, and therefore if you were to hire a lawyer who has been practicing for 2 years and pay a certain fee, you cannot expect to pay a lawyer who has been practicing for 20 years the same amount for the same work. No, older more experienced lawyers are generally more expensive to hire than younger lawyers, that is a fact. Therefore, your divorce in Nigeria will cost more based on the experience of the lawyer involved.
So, those are some of the factors which come into play when estimating costs for a divorce in Nigeria. That being said, we conducted some research with the lawyers in our network and used this information to create a tool for estimating divorce fees if done with the lawyers in our network. You can try it out below:
Please note however that the tool only gives estimates and should not be taken as a definite quote for legal services for a divorce in Nigeria.
Cc: Law Padi