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Succinct but detailed PDF Version of the explained Key-Points on Nigerian Family Law II. For a quick grasp / understanding.















Kindly read through this Jide amateur example/excerpt: Jide, the Managing Director of Owo Oil Company went to inspect the company’s exploration site at Delta. While in Delta, he fell in love with Titi who sells Akara and Bread at the site. One day, while inspecting the Site, he calls Titi and buys all her “market” (20loaves and 50 pieces of Akara). The next day he decides to show off and buys a Golf car and a new shop for Titi. But Titi is hard to get. She tells Jide that she does not accept gifts from strangers. But Jide is bent on marrying her. The next day, Jide gifted her a Rangerover vogue. This time, she considers his offer. Cut the long story short; they get married in the High Court some weeks later. Jide then purchases a #50,000,000 Duplex where they both reside as their matrimonial home. Their marriage begot Johnny and July. Subsequently, Owo Oil Company became international and Jide was seldom in Nigeria. After one month of loneliness, Titi succumbs to pressure and sleeps with Janto the gateman who did not even need to impress her. She gives birth to John whom Jide thinks is his Son.

7 years later, Jide suspects that John doesn’t resemble him physically or in character. A DNA is conducted and it reveals that John not Jide’s son.

Jide does not believe Titi could betray his trust after all he has done for her. He now abhors Titi and files for divorce.

Now we proceed to the main topic: “Ancillary Reliefs”


“Ancillary” connotes “supplementary”… something that supports the central object. In divorce proceedings, the courts usually grant supplementary reliefs to make the divorce order practical and sensible. Such reliefs are called “ancillary reliefs”.

Part IV of the Matrimonial Causes Act provides for the reliefs. Note however that Part IV shall ONLY APPLY to: (1.) Parties to a statutory marriage and (2.) Children of the (statutory) marriage. A statutory marriage has been defined by lord Penzance in Hyde V Hyde as a voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others during the continuance of the marriage.

Parties to a Statutory Marriage: Within the meaning of Section 69 Matrimonial Causes Act include a husband and wife of a statutory marriage (whether void or voidable). At common law, only the wife was considered/entitled to ancillary reliefs but that is not the case at present.

:: Parties to a customary or Islamic law marriage are not entitled to the ancillary reliefs under Part IV: Aneke V Aneke.

Children of the marriage:

Section 69 defines “children of the marriage” to include;

  1. Any child adopted since the marriage by the husband and the wife or by either of them with the consent of the other.
  2. Any child of both spouses born before the marriage whether legitimated or not.
  3. Any child (illegitimate or adopted) of either parties if at the relevant time was ordinarily a member of the household of the husband and wife: The Act defined “relevant time”; the time immediately preceding the time when the husband and wife ceased to live together. Or if they have ceased to live together more than once, the time immediately preceding the time when they last ceased to live together before the institution of the proceedings. OR If they were living together when the proceeding was instituted, the time immediately preceding the institution of the proceedings. In May V May, the court noted: “member of a household” does NOT mean physical presence or residence… the child must be treated as a member of the household. The phrase; “immediately” means that no substantial time should have lapsed. It is a question of fact and circumstances. In Asomugha V Asomugha, the wife had two daughters before she married the man. The man treated them as his daughters and even represented them to be such to his employer for official records. The court held that the girls were children of the marriage. In Osemabor V Osemabor. The court held that since the children were treated as an integral part of the family, they are children of the marriage. In Cunningham V Cunningham, the children of the wife’s former marriage were being taken care of by the wife’s parents (i.e. the children’s maternal grandmother). The court held that they were not children of the marriage.

Note however that a child (of the parties) that has been adopted by a third party cannot be regarded as a child of the marriage-Section 69(c)


Maintenance in this sense connotes support. E.g. #20,000 per month to the wife upon divorce. Maintenance under Section 70 of the Matrimonial Causes Act is an ancillary relief which the High Court may grant in favour of either party of the marriage and (or) children of the marriage.

Meaning that the wife or husband may be awarded maintenance or ordered to maintain the other party.

At common-law, this concept was also employed by making the wife an agent of necessity for her husband. She could pledge her husband’s credit to get necessaries based on his standard of living. This relationship could arise where she is not being provided for or has been deserted by her husband. The agency relationship may cease to exist/terminate in deserving instances. Like where; –she contracts on her own behalf/authority, -the seller is aware of her husband’s death, -she has enough provisions, -the goods purchased are not necessaries, -she commits adultery or divorces her husband.

Parties may agree on maintenance but they cannot oust the jurisdiction of the court to review their agreement-Fowkes V Fowkes.

Maintenance is divided into two viz: maintenance per se and maintenance pendent lit.

MAINTENANCE PER SE is provided under Section 70(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act thus:

Subject to this Section, the court may in respect to proceeding in respect to the maintenance (per se) of either party to or the children of the marriage, make such order as it (discretionarily) deems proper having regard to the means, earning capacity and conduct of the parties to the marriage and all other relevant circumstances.

Children of the marriage as used in the provision means issues of the marriage provided they are less than 21 years of age.

In Olu-ibukun V Oluibukun, the Supreme Court noted the improvements brought about by Section 70(1): – It does not use the word; “alimony” –It does not utilise or provide for the one-fifth rule (i.e. husband providing 1/5 of his property), – the remedy is open to either party of the (statutory) marriage as opposed to the common law position where it was only the wife that was entitled to maintenance…. KINDLY DOWNLOAD THE FULL NOTE THANK YOU.