MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ACT
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
1. Institution of matrimonial causes proceedings only under this Act.
2. Jurisdiction in matrimonial causes.
3. Void marriages and prohibited degrees of consanguinity.
4. Marriage of persons within prohibited degrees of affinity.
5. Voidable marriages.
6. Validity, etc., of certain marriages not affected.
7. Special provisions as to wife’s domicile.
8. Law to be applied.
9. Staying and transferring of proceedings.
10. Courts to aid one another.
Matrimonial relief Reconciliation
12. Hearing when reconciliation fails.
etc., made in course of attempt to effect reconciliation.
14. Marriage conciliator to take oath of secrecy.
Dissolution of marriage
15. Grounds for dissolution of marriage.
16. Provisions supplementary to section 15.
17. Additional provisions to encourage reconciliation.
18. Constructi ve desertion.
19. Refusal to resume cohabitation.
20. Desertion continuing after insanity.
21. Restriction on finding of non‐consummation.
22. Aggregation of concurrent sentences in reckoning imprisonment.
23. Restriction on finding of non‐maintenance.
24. Restriction on finding of insanity.
25. Power to refuse to make decree without maintenance, etc., oinpper case.
26. Condonation and connivance.
Matrimonial Causes Act
28. Discretionary bars.
29. No dissolution where petition for nullity before court.
30. Petition within two years of marriage.
31. Claim for damages.
32. Joinder of adulterers, etc.
33. Effect of dissolution of maniage.
Nullity of marriage
34. Ground for decree of nullity of marriage.
35. Who may institute proceedings.
36. Incapacity to consummate maniage.
37. Restrictions on certain grounds.
38. Effect of decree of nullity of a voidable marriage.
39. Grounds for judicial separation.
40. Application to judicial separation of sundry sections of this Part. 41 . Effect of decree of judicial separation.
41. Effect on rights to sue, devolution of property, etc.
42. Exercise of joint powers not affected.
43. Decree of judicial separation not to bar subsequent proceedings for dissolution of maniage.
44. Discharge of decree of judicial separation on resumption of cohabitation.
45. Application of sections 41 to 45itno certa decrees.
Restitution of conjugal rights
47. Ground for decree of restitution of conjugal rights.
48. Agreement for separation.
49. Sincerity of petitioner.
50. Notice as to home.
51. Enforcement of decree.
Jactitation of marriage
52. Ground for decree of jactitation of marriage, and discretion of court.
53. Facts, etc., occurring before commencement of Act or outside Nigeria.
54. Institution of proceedings.
55. Duty of court.
56. Decree nisi in first instance.
57. Decree absolute where children under sixteen years, etc.
58. When decree becomes absolute.
59. Certificate as to decree absolute.
60. Rescission ofsdi ecree ni
where parties are reconciled, etc.
61. Rescission of decree nisi on ground of miscarriage of justice.
62. Intervention by Attorney‐General on request from court.
63. Intervention of Attorney‐General in other cases.
64. Delegation by Attorney‐General.
65. Intervention by other persons.
66. Rescission of decree nisi in consequence of intervention.
67. When proceedings finally disposed of.
68. Procedure on intervention.
Maintenance, custody and settlement
69. Interpretation of “marriage”, etc., in the application of this Part.
70. Powers of court innmteani ance proceedings.
71. Powers of court in custody, etc., proceedings.
72. Power of court in proceedings with respect to settlement of property.
73. General powers of court.
74. Execution of deeds, etc., by order of court.
75. Power of court to make orders on dismissalnof petitio .
76. General right of appeal.
77. Appeals with leave.
78. Appeal from court of summary jurisdiction.
79. Appellate jurisdiction and powers.
Recognition of decrees
80. Effect of decrees.
81. Recognition of other decrees.
82. Standard of proof.
83. Evidence of husbands and wives.
84. Evidence of non‐access.
85. Evidence as to adultery.
86. Proof of marriage, etc.
87. Evidence of rape, etc.
Matrimonial Causes Act
Enforcement of decrees
89. Enforcement of decrees by other HighuCrots .
90. Recovery of moneys as judgement debt.
91. Summary enforcement of orders for maintenance.
92. Enforcement of maintenance orders by attachment of earnings.
93. Enforcement by other means.
94. Enforcement of existing decrees.
95. Power to make rules of court for purposes of this Part.
97. Pending proceedings generally.
98. Continuance of proceedings for dissolution or nullity of marriage, or judicial separation.
99. Application of this Act to pending proceedings for dissolution or nullity of marriage, or judicial separation.
100. Continuance of other pending proceedings.
101. Special provisions as to pending appeals or existingirghts to appeal.
102. Decrees of restitution of conjugal rights under previous law.
103. Hearings to be in open court.
104. Proceedings to be heard by judge alone.
105. Transactions intended to defeat claims.
106. Service of process.
107. Position of clergy as to re‐marriage.
108. Restriction on publication of evidence.
111. Frivolous or vexatious proceedings.
112. Rules of court.
113. Savings for sundry domestic and foreign decrees, etc.
115. Short title.
Prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity
Oath or affirmation byamrriage conciliator
Enforcement of orders for maintenance
MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ACT
An Act to make provisions for matrimonial causes.
[1970 No. 18.]
[Commencement. ] PART I
[17th March, 1970]
1. Institution of matrimonial cause proceedings only under this Act
(1) After the commencement of this Act, a matrimonial cause shall not be instituted otherwise than under this Act.
(2) If a matrimonial cause has been instituted before the commencement of this Act but not completed, it shall be continued and dealt with only in accordance with the provi‐ sions of this Act.
(3) Where before or after the commencement of this Act a matrimonial cause has been or tisitiuntsed, and whether or not it has been completed, proceedings in relation thereto for any relief or order of a kind that could be sought under this Act shall be insti‐ tuted after the commencement of this Act only under this Act, so however that, subject to the succeeding provisions of this and the next section‐‐
(a) any jurisdiction of a court of summary jurisdiction of a State or of a court of appeal from such a court, under the law of that State, to make—
(i) orders with respect to the maintenance of wives or children oreth of or access to children; or
(ii) separation orders or other orders having the effect of relieving a party to a marriage from any obligation to cohabit with the other party,
shall not be affected by this Act or any proceedings thereunder; and
(b) proceedings for or in respect of such an order, or for its enforcement, may be continued or instituted as if this Act had not been made.
(4) Where a marriage is dissolved or annulled by a decree of a court of cornpetent ju‐ risdiction under this Act‐
(a) any jurisdiction of such a court or of a court on appeal from such a court, to make orders of the kind specified in subsection (3) (a) of this section shall, by virtue of this subsection, cease to be applicable in relation to the parties to the marriage or the children of the marriage; and
(b) any order of that kind (unless it is a maintenance order, when subsection (6) of this section will apply) made by such a court in relation to those parties or children shall cease to have effect.
(5) A court in the exercise of its jurisdiction under this Act may at any time by order direct that an order of the kind specified in subsection (3) (a) of this section made by a court of summary jurisdiction, or by a court on appeal from such a court, shall cease to have effect; and that order shall cease to have effect accordingly.
(6) Where an order of the kind specified in subsection (3) (a) of this section made with respect to the maintenance of a wife or of children ceases to have effect under sub‐ section (4) or (5) of this section, the order made may, in so far as it relates to any period before it so ceased to have effect, be enforced as if this Act had not been made.
2. Jurisdiction in matrimonial causes
(1) Subject to this Act, a person may institute a matrimonial cause under this Act in the High Court of any State of the Federation; and for that purpose the High Court of each State of the Federation shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine‐‐
(a) matrimonial causes instituted under this Act; and
(b) matrimonial causes (not being matrimonial causes to which section 101 of this Act applies) continued cincoardance with the provisions of Part IX of this Act, so however that jurisdiction under this Act in respect of matrimonial causes within this paragraph shall be restricted to the court in which the matrimonial cause was instituted,
and in any case where maintenance is ordered in proceedings in a High Court, a court of summary jurisdiction in any State shall have jurisdiction to enforce payment in summary manner.
(2) Proceedings for a decree‐‐
(a) of dissolution of marriage; or
(b) of nullity of a voidable marriage; or
(c) of nullity of a void marriage; or
(d) of judicial separation; or
(e) ofrestitution of conjugal rights; or
(f) of jactitation of marriage, may be instituted under this Act only by a personddomicile in Nigeria.
(3) For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that a person domiciled in any State of the Federation is domiciled in Nigeria for the purposes of this Act and may
institute proceedings under this Act in the High Court of any State whether or not he is domiciled in that particular State.
3. Void marriages and prohibited degrees of consanguinity
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a marriage that takes place after the commencement of this Act is void in any of the following cases but not otherwise, that is to say, where‐
(a) either of the parties is, at the time of the marriage, lawfully married to some other person;
(b) the parties are within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or, subject to section 4 of this Act, of affinity;
(c) the marriage is not a valid marriage under the law of the place where the mar‐ riage takes place, by reason of a failure to comply with the requirements of the law of that place with respect to the form of solemnisation of marriages;
(d) the consent of either of the parties is not a real consent because‐‐
(i) it was obtained by duress or fraud; or
(ii) that party is mistaken as to identity of the other party, or as to the na‐ ture of the ceremony performed;
(iii) that party is mentally incapable of understanding the nature of the mar‐ riage contract;
(e) either of the parties is not of marriageable age.
(2) The prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity respectively on and after the commencement of this Act shall be those set out in the First Schedule to this Act, and none other.
(3) A marriage solemnised before the commencement of this aAlclt sh
not be void‐
able on the grounds of consanguinity or affinity of the parties unless the parties were, at the time of the marriage, within one of the degrees of consanguinity or affinity set out in the First Schedule to this Act but nothing in this subsection shall make voidable a mar‐ riage that would not, apart from this provision, be voidable.
4. Marriage of persons within prohibited degrees of affinity
(1) Where two persons who are within the prohibited degrees of affinity wish to marry each other, they may apply, in writing, to ajudge for permission to do so.
(2) If the judge is satisfied that the circumstances of the particular case are so excep‐ tional as to justify the granting of the permission sought he may, by order, permit the ap‐ plicants to marry one another.
(3) Where persons marry in pursuance of permission granted under this section, the validity of their marriage shall not be affected by the fact that they are within the prohib‐ ited degrees of affinity.
(4) The President may arrange with the Governor of a State for the performance by judges of the High Court of that State of functions under this section.
(5) In this section, “judge” means a judge in respect of whom an arrangement made under subsection (4) of this section is applicable.
(6) Rules made under section 112 of this Act may make provision for the practice
andeprocedur in and in connection with applications under this section, and may include
provision for or in relation to the summoning of witnesses, the production of documents, the taking of evidence on oath or affirmation, and the payment of expenses of witnesses.
5. Voidable marriage
(1) Subject to this Act, a marriage that takes place after the commencement of this Act not being a marriage that is void, shall be voidable in the following cases but not oth‐ erwise, that is to say, where at the time of marriage‐‐‐‐
(a) either party to the marriage is incapable of consummating the marriage;
(b) either party to the marriage is‐‐
(i) of unsound mind; or
(ii) a mental defective; or
(iii)subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy;
(c) either party to the marriage is suffering from a venereal disease in a communic‐ able form; or
(d) thenwainfet is preg by a person other than the husband.
(2) For the purposes of this section, “mental defective” means a person who, owing to an arrested or incomplete development of mind, whether arising from inherent causes or induced by disease or injury, requires oversight, care or control for his own protection or for the protection of others and is, by reason of that fact, unfitted for the responsibili‐ ties of marriage.
6. Validity, etc., of certain marriages not affected
(1) Save as expressly provided in this Part of this Act, nothing in this Part shall affect the validity or invalidity of a marriage that took place before the commencement of this Act.
(2) A provision of this Act shall not affect the validity or invalidity of a marriage where it would not be in accordance with the rules of private international law to apply that provision in relation to that marriage.
7. Special provisions as to wife’s domicile
For the purposes of this Act‐
(a) a deserted wife who was domiciled in Nigeria either immediately before her marriage or immediately before the desertion shall be deemed to be domiciled in Nigeria; and
(b) a wife who is resident in Nigeria at the date of instituting proceedings under this Act and has been so resident for the period of three years immediately pre‐ ceding that date shall be deemed to be domiciled in Nigeria at that date.
8. Law to be applied
The jurisdiction conferred on a court by this Act shall be exercised in accordance with this Act, and any law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act which confers jurisdiction in divorce or matrimonial causes on the High Court of a State or pro‐ vides for the law and practice to be applied in the exercise of that jurisdiction shall, to the extent that it does so, cease to have effect.
9. Staying and transferring of proceedings
(1) Where it appears to a court in which a matrimonial cause has been instituted un‐ der this Act that a matrimonial cause between the parties to the marriage or purported marriage has been instituted in another court having jurisdiction under this Act, the court may in its discretion stay the matrimonial cause for such time as it thinks fit.
(2) Where it appears to a court in which matrimonial cause has been instituted under this Act (including a matrimonial cause in relation to which subsection (1) of this section applies) that it is in the interest of justice that the matrimonial cause be dealt with in an‐ other court having jurisdiction to hear and determine that cause, the court may transfer the matrimonial cause to the other court.
(3) The court may exercise its powers under this section at any time and at any stage either on application by any of the parties, or of its own motion.
(4) Where a matrimonial cause is transferred from a court in pursuance of this sec‐ tion‐‐
(a) all documents of record filed in that court shall be transmitted by the registrar or other proper officer of that court to the registrar or other proper officer of the court to which the cause is transferred; and
(b) the court to which the cause is transferred shall proceed as if the cause had been originally instituted in that court, and as if the same proceedings had been taken in that court from which the cause was transferred, but all subsequent proceedings shall be in accordance with the practice and procedure of the court to which the cause is transferred.
10. Courts to aid one another
All courts having jurisdiction under this Act shall severally act in aid of and be auxil‐ iary to one another in all matters under this Act.
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