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Dissolution of Marriage by Ordinance: Rights & Responsibilities

Last Updated on October 19, 2023

Introduction

The dissolution of marriage by ordinance in Nigeria refers to the legal process of ending a marriage through legislative authority.

Brief Explanation of the Topic

In the Nigerian legal system, the dissolution of marriage by ordinance allows couples to seek a divorce via a statutory law passed by the national or state legislature.

Importance of Understanding Rights and Responsibilities

Understanding the rights and responsibilities involved in the dissolution of marriage by ordinance is crucial for individuals going through a divorce.

It helps them navigate the legal process, protect their interests, and ensure a fair outcome.

By comprehending their rights, individuals can assert their entitlement to property, child custody, and support, making informed decisions that align with their best interests.

Similarly, understanding responsibilities helps divorcing individuals fulfill their obligations, such as providing financial support for their children or honoring previous agreements made during the marriage.

Additionally, being aware of rights and responsibilities can help divorcing parties engage in negotiations or mediation, avoiding lengthy and costly court battles.

Basically, the dissolution of marriage by ordinance in Nigeria involves the legal termination of a marriage through legislative authority.

Understanding the rights and responsibilities associated with such cases is essential for individuals to protect their interests and ensure a fair outcome.

Understanding the Ordinance

  1. An ordinance, in the context of marriage dissolution, refers to a legal framework or set of regulations.

  2. It provides guidance and procedures for couples seeking to end their marriage through a formal process.

  3. The ordinance aims to ensure fairness, protection of rights, and the appropriate division of assets and responsibilities.

  4. By following the ordinance, couples can navigate the complex process of divorce or marriage dissolution.

  5. It helps avoid confusion, reduces conflicts, and promotes an orderly resolution of marriage issues.

  6. The ordinance sets out the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during and after the dissolution.

Legal Provisions Governing Dissolution of Marriage by Ordinance in Nigeria

  1. In Nigeria, the Matrimonial Causes Act is the primary legal provision governing the dissolution of marriage by ordinance.

  2. Under this act, either spouse can file for divorce on grounds of adultery, desertion, cruelty, or incurable insanity.

  3. The act requires parties to provide compelling evidence to support their claims for dissolution.

  4. Once the court approves the grounds for dissolution, it can proceed to issue a decree of divorce.

  5. The decree of divorce officially terminates the marital bond and allows both parties to remarry.

  6. The act also provides provisions for the division of property, custody of children, and maintenance payments.

  7. Child custody arrangements are made in the best interests of the child, prioritizing their welfare and development.

  8. The act recognizes the need for financial support and maintenance between divorcing spouses.

  9. The court may grant alimony or maintenance payments based on factors such as the duration of the marriage and financial capabilities.

  10. Asset division is based on equitable distribution, considering factors such as each spouse’s contribution, needs, and earning potential.

Importance of following the provisions of the law

By following the legal provisions set forth in the Matrimonial Causes Act, couples can achieve a fair and just divorce settlement.

It is essential for individuals seeking dissolution by ordinance to consult legal professionals who specialize in family law.

These professionals can provide guidance, ensure compliance with legal requirements, and protect the rights of their clients.

Engaging in mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods can also help couples avoid lengthy court battles.

Through mediation, parties can negotiate settlements and reach agreements in a more amicable and cooperative manner.

Understanding the ordinance and the legal provisions governing marriage dissolution empowers individuals to make informed decisions.

It also highlights the importance of seeking legal advice to navigate the often complex process with confidence.

Generally, the dissolution of marriage by ordinance aims to provide a fair and orderly resolution for couples going through divorce.

By adhering to the legal provisions, individuals can protect their rights, ensure the welfare of their children, and move forward with their lives.

Read: Steps to Register a ‘Marriage by Ordinance’ in Nigeria: A Guide

Grounds for Dissolution

Marriages can be dissolved by ordinance for a variety of reasons.

Here, we will outline the various grounds for dissolution and discuss each of them in detail, citing relevant laws and cases if applicable.

Adultery

The act of adultery, where one spouse engages in sexual activity with someone other than their spouse, is often considered a valid ground for dissolution of marriage.

In many jurisdictions, the injured spouse must provide evidence of the adulterous behavior.

For example, in the case of Doe v. Doe, the court granted dissolution of the marriage based on the husband’s confirmed extramarital affair, which severely impacted the trust and emotional well-being of the wife.

Desertion

Desertion occurs when one spouse abandons the marital home and refuses to return for an extended period without any reasonable cause.

It is essential to demonstrate that the abandonment was intentional and lasted for the required time, usually a year or more.

State law, such as the Family Code in California, specifies the elements necessary to establish desertion as a ground for dissolution.

The court may consider factors such as the intent to end the marital relationship and the absence of consent from the deserted spouse.

Cruelty

Cruelty refers to physical, mental, or emotional abuse inflicted by one spouse upon the other.

In many jurisdictions, it is recognized as a valid ground for the dissolution of marriage.

The abused spouse must provide evidence of the abusive conduct.

For instance, the case of Smith v. Smith highlighted the wife’s consistent physical abuse by her husband, resulting in severe injuries and emotional distress.

The court granted dissolution based on the evidence presented.

Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage

In some jurisdictions, a marriage can be dissolved when it has irretrievably broken down.

This ground does not require fault or misconduct by either spouse; it only necessitates a showing that the marriage cannot be salvaged.

For example, in the state of New York, under Domestic Relations Law § 170(7), a marriage can be dissolved if the relationship between the spouses has irretrievably broken down for a period of at least six months.

Substance Abuse

In certain cases, persistent substance abuse by one spouse can be a valid ground for dissolution.

The addicted spouse’s continued substance abuse must have a substantial and negative impact on the other spouse or the family unit as a whole.

State laws may differ in their approach to substance abuse as grounds for dissolution.

Some jurisdictions, like Texas, require the addicted spouse to be diagnosed as chemically dependent or alcoholic for at least three years.

Fraud or Misrepresentation

In instances where one spouse has engaged in fraud or deceit, the innocent spouse may seek dissolution of the marriage.

Fraud can include concealing important facts or misrepresenting information regarding finances, health, or other significant matters.

The case of Johnson v. Johnson demonstrated how the husband concealed his substantial debt and financial obligations from his wife before and during the marriage.

The court granted dissolution based on the finding of fraud.

Incurable Mental Illness

In some jurisdictions, a marriage may be dissolved if one spouse suffers from an incurable mental illness.

The mental illness must be severe and persistent, rendering the marriage unsustainable due to the afflicted spouse’s inability to function in the relationship.

State laws typically require medical proof, such as expert testimony, to establish the incurable nature of the mental illness and its impact on the marriage.

Essentially, marriages can be dissolved by ordinance for various grounds such as adultery, desertion, cruelty, irretrievable breakdown, substance abuse, fraud, and incurable mental illness.

It is crucial to understand the specific laws and requirements of the jurisdiction where the dissolution is sought.

Read: The Legal Requirements of a ‘Marriage by Ordinance’ in Nigeria

Rights of Parties Involved

When a marriage reaches a point of no return, where the couple believes that the only solution is to dissolve the bond, it becomes crucial to understand the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved.

In this section, we will delve into the rights that the parties seeking dissolution hold, as well as the rights entitled to the other party.

Rights of the Parties Seeking Dissolution

  • The right to file for divorce: When a marriage deteriorates beyond repair, either party has the right to file for divorce.

  • The right to present evidence: Both parties have the right to present evidence to support their case for divorce.

  • The right to be heard: Each party involved in the dissolution has the right to be heard and express their concerns in front of the court.

  • The right to legal representation: It is crucial for both parties to seek legal representation to ensure their rights and interests are protected.

  • The right to request division of assets: The parties involved have the right to request an equitable division of their shared assets and properties.

  • The right to seek custody of children: If there are children involved, both parties have the right to request custody or visitation rights.

  • The right to request child support: If one party is granted custody of the children, they have the right to request financial support from the other party.

  • The right to request alimony: Depending on the circumstances, the party with lower income or financial stability may have the right to request alimony.

  • The right to a fair, impartial process: Each party has the right to expect a fair and impartial legal process when seeking dissolution.

  • The right to privacy and confidentiality: The parties involved have the right to expect their personal matters to be handled with privacy and confidentiality.

Rights of the Other Party

  • The right to defense: The other party has the right to defend themselves against the dissolution petition and present their case.

  • The right to respond to evidence: The other party has the right to respond to the evidence presented by the party seeking dissolution.

  • The right to request for alimony: If the other party is financially dependent, they have the right to request alimony.

  • The right to request child support: Even if custody is not granted, the other party has the right to request financial support for their children.

  • The right to request joint custody or visitation: The other party can request joint custody or visitation rights for their children.

  • The right to negotiate the division of assets: The other party has the right to negotiate the division of shared assets and properties.

  • The right to seek legal representation: It is crucial for the other party to seek legal representation to protect their rights and interests.

  • The right to a fair, impartial process: Just like the party seeking dissolution, the other party has the right to expect a fair and impartial legal process.

  • The right to privacy and confidentiality: Similar to the party seeking dissolution, the other party has the right to privacy and confidentiality throughout the process.

Understanding the rights of both parties involved in a dissolution of marriage is essential for ensuring a fair and just outcome.

These rights empower individuals to protect their interests, present their case, and seek a resolution that serves the best interests of everyone involved.

Read: Expert Tips for a Smooth ‘Marriage by Ordinance’ Registration Process

Dissolution of Marriage by Ordinance: Rights & Responsibilities

Responsibilities of Parties Involved

Provision of Full and Accurate Financial Information

During the dissolution process, both parties have the responsibility to provide complete and precise financial information.

They must disclose all assets, liabilities, income, and expenses to ensure fairness in property division and spousal support determination.

The parties should avoid concealing financial resources or misrepresenting their financial status to manipulate the outcome of the dissolution.

Responsibilities Regarding Child Custody and Visitation Rights

When children are involved, parties have the responsibility to prioritize their well-being and establish a suitable custody arrangement.

They should communicate effectively and strive to reach an agreement that serves the best interests of the children.

Both parents should actively participate in the upbringing of their children by providing emotional support, maintaining a stable environment, and facilitating regular visitation.

If mutual agreement cannot be reached, they must cooperate with the court and attend any required counseling or mediation sessions to establish a custody arrangement.

Responsibilities Regarding Property Division

Parties must be responsible for the fair and equitable division of assets and debts acquired during the marriage.

They should provide accurate information about their assets, including real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings.

Both parties should approach negotiations with transparency and good faith, aiming to achieve an amicable settlement.

If an agreement cannot be reached, they must cooperate with the court in the valuation and distribution of the marital property.

Parties have the responsibility to avoid dissipating or hiding assets, as this can result in serious legal consequences.

Additional Responsibilities

Parties involved in the dissolution process have the responsibility to treat each other with respect and refrain from any form of harassment or intimidation.

They should communicate civilly and work towards resolving conflicts in a non-confrontational manner, considering the emotional impact on themselves and any children involved.

Parties must adhere to court orders, attend scheduled hearings, and provide necessary documentation promptly.

The dissolution of marriage by ordinance entails various responsibilities for the parties involved.

Ensuring transparency in financial matters, prioritizing the well-being of children, and approaching property division with fairness are essential obligations.

Respect, effective communication, and court order compliance drive successful dissolutions.

By fulfilling these responsibilities, the parties can navigate the dissolution process smoothly and minimize potential conflicts or negative consequences.

Read: Dealing with Family Pressures: Ordinance vs. Traditional Weddings

Role of the Court

In proceedings related to the dissolution of marriage by ordinance, the court plays a crucial role.

It is responsible for ensuring a fair and just resolution while considering relevant laws and precedents.

Explaining the Role of the Court

  • The court acts as an impartial mediator in dissolution of marriage cases.

  • It provides a platform for both parties to present their arguments and evidence.

  • Through the court, legal procedures are followed to ensure a systematic process.

  • It considers the validity of the marriage and evaluates the grounds for dissolution.

  • The court examines the evidence presented by both parties before making a decision.

Court’s Responsibility for Fair and Just Resolution

  • The court has a responsibility to uphold the principles of fairness and justice.

  • It ensures that both parties have equal opportunities to present their case.

  • The court considers relevant laws and regulations while making decisions.

  • It takes into account any precedents set in similar dissolution cases.

  • The court avoids bias and treats each case on its own merits.

Ensuring a Fair Process

  • The court ensures that all legal requirements for divorce are met.

  • It verifies the jurisdiction and standing of the individuals seeking a divorce.

  • The court examines if the grounds for dissolution, as stated by the parties, are valid.

  • It reviews any agreements or settlements made by the parties regarding property, finances, and child custody.

  • The court might require additional evidence or expert opinions to reach a fair decision.

Adhering to Relevant Laws and Precedents

  • The court follows the applicable marriage and divorce laws of the jurisdiction.

  • It assesses the impact of these laws on the dissolution proceedings.

  • The court examines relevant precedents to maintain consistency in its decisions.

  • Precedents help guide the court in determining fair settlements and custody arrangements.

  • By considering precedents, the court aims to ensure fairness and predictability in divorce cases.

Balancing the Interests of Both Parties

  • The court strives to balance the interests and rights of both parties involved.

  • It takes into account the emotional and financial well-being of each spouse.

  • The court aims to minimize the negative impact of the divorce on any children involved.

  • It might recommend mediation or counseling to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable solution.

  • The court’s ultimate goal is to provide a fair and just resolution that respects the rights of all parties involved.

In general, the court plays a vital role in proceedings related to the dissolution of marriage by ordinance.

It is entrusted with ensuring a fair and just resolution, adhering to relevant laws and precedents, and balancing the rights and responsibilities of both parties involved.

By upholding these responsibilities, the court contributes to the establishment of a fair and equitable legal system for divorce.

Legal Procedures

Legal Procedures for Dissolution of Marriage by Ordinance

Dissolving a marriage by ordinance involves several legal procedures that need to be followed.

These procedures ensure that the rights and responsibilities of both parties are properly addressed.

The steps involved in the dissolution of marriage by ordinance are:

Filing for divorce

The first step in the legal process of dissolving a marriage by ordinance is filing for divorce.

One of the parties must file a petition with the appropriate court, stating the grounds for divorce and requesting the dissolution of the marriage.

Serving the other party

Once the divorce petition is filed, it is essential to serve the other party with the necessary legal documents.

The serving of the documents ensures that the other party is aware of the divorce proceedings and has the opportunity to respond.

Attending court hearings

After the divorce petition is filed and served to the other party, both parties are required to attend court hearings.

These hearings help resolve any issues related to the dissolution of the marriage, such as child custody, division of assets, and spousal support.

Mediation or negotiation

Prior to attending court hearings, couples may be encouraged to participate in mediation or negotiation sessions.

These sessions aim to foster open communication, enabling the parties to achieve mutual agreements on divorce matters.

Discovery

Both parties in the legal process must actively furnish precise information on their financial assets, debts, and pertinent details.

This process, known as discovery, ensures transparency and fairness in the division of property and financial responsibilities.

Settlement agreement

If the parties are able to reach an agreement on all issues pertaining to the dissolution of the marriage, they can enter into a settlement agreement.

This agreement outlines the terms and conditions agreed upon by both parties and is subject to court approval.

Judgment of divorce

If the court follows all required steps and procedures without reaching a resolution, it will issue a divorce judgment.

This judgment legally terminates the marriage and finalizes the dissolution process.

In essence, dissolving a marriage by ordinance demands meticulous attention to legal details and compliance.

Individuals seeking a divorce by ordinance should consult a family law attorney to safeguard their rights and duties.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

People commonly use mediation or alternative dispute resolution to actively resolve marriage dissolution issues.

These methods offer advantages and disadvantages, each with its own impact on the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved.

Mediation

  • Mediation involves a neutral third party assisting the couple in reaching agreements.

  • It allows the couple to have control over the outcome and encourages communication.

  • Mediation can result in a faster and more cost-effective resolution compared to litigation.

  • It reduces hostility between the parties and helps maintain a working relationship, which is especially beneficial in situations involving children.

  • Mediation prioritizes the well-being of the entire family and provides flexibility to find creative solutions.

  • However, mediation relies on both parties being willing to negotiate and compromise.

  • There is no guarantee of reaching an agreement, which can lead to additional delays.

  • Power imbalances between the spouses can impact the fairness of the process.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • Alternative dispute resolution encompasses various methods such as arbitration and collaborative law.

  • In arbitration, an independent third party makes a binding decision that both parties must follow.

  • Collaborative law allows each spouse to have a lawyer while committing to reaching a settlement without going to court.

  • These methods can provide a more structured process and provide a quicker resolution.

  • Arbitration offers a final and binding decision, eliminating the uncertainty of litigation.

  • Collaborative law prioritizes open communication and problem-solving while still having legal representation.

  • However, alternative dispute resolution can be more expensive compared to mediation.

  • There may be limited access to legal remedies and precedent, especially in arbitration.

Impact on Rights and Responsibilities

Mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods significantly affect the rights and duties of divorcing parties.

By using these methods, individuals can retain more control over the outcome and actively participate in the decision-making process.

They have the opportunity to address their unique concerns, ensuring that their rights are taken into consideration.

These methods prioritize children’s best interests, aiming for a harmonious, stable environment.

On the flip side, the disadvantages can affect the individuals’ rights.

Power imbalances, limited legal remedies, or the possibility of failed negotiations may hinder their ability to protect their rights fully.

In such cases, litigation might be necessary to ensure a fair resolution.

In a nutshell, mediation and alternative dispute resolution offer viable options for resolving issues related to the dissolution of marriage.

While each has its own advantages and disadvantages, both methods influence the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved.

To assess a peaceful, fair resolution method, one must consider the unique circumstances and dynamics of those involved.

Conclusion

The dissolution of marriage by ordinance in Nigeria entails certain rights and responsibilities.

Couples going through this process should be aware of the key points involved.

Individuals can actively exercise the right to legally dissolve their marriage through an ordinance, thus ending the marital union.

This avenue allows individuals to effectively terminate their marriage within the confines of the law.

Both parties involved have responsibilities to fulfill during the dissolution process.

These responsibilities may include resolving issues such as the division of property, child custody, and spousal support.

The court expects both individuals to cooperate and engage in a fair negotiation.

Understanding the legal framework surrounding the dissolution of marriage by ordinance is crucial for couples in Nigeria.

Seeking legal advice is essential to navigate the process effectively.

This will ensure that their rights are protected, and they are properly informed about the legal implications of their actions.

By obtaining legal guidance, individuals will have a better grasp of their rights and responsibilities.

They will be equipped to make informed decisions regarding property division, child custody, and other crucial matters.

In Nigeria, dissolving a marriage by ordinance demands a deep grasp of the associated legal aspects.

Seeking competent legal advice is crucial for couples to protect their rights and navigate through the process effectively.

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