Sole Custody Of A Child In Nigeria

Aekley Solicitors


Aekley Solicitors
The concept of sole custody is significant for parents seeking to make decisions regarding their child's welfare independently and without recourse to the other parent of the child.
Nigeria Family and Matrimonial
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The concept of sole custody is significant for parents seeking to make decisions regarding their child's welfare independently and without recourse to the other parent of the child. Sole custody grants one parent exclusive legal and physical custody of the child and all parental rights over the child. This article discusses the legal processes and requirements for obtaining sole custody in Nigeria.

The Importance of the Paramount Interest of the Child

In Nigeria, child custody matters are primarily governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act, the Child's Rights Act/Child Rights Law of various States and the relevant procedural rules applicable. These Laws emphasize that the best interests of the child should be paramount in any child's custody decision.

Steps to obtain Sole Custody

Consultation and Preparation of Relevant Documents

Obtaining Sole custody in Nigeria can either be by seeking same as one of the ancillary reliefs in a dissolution of Marriage or judicial separation matter or by filing an independent suit seeking for sole custody of a child. It is advisable to seek the assistance of a legal practitioner knowledgeable in family law to provide guidance. The legal practitioner will assess the facts of the case and prepare the relevant documents to file in Court.

Filing of Petition or Originating Motion in Court

The process of obtaining sole custody involves either seeking same as an ancillary relief in a divorce or separation petition to the High Court of the State or the filing of an Originating Motion at the High Court or Magistrate Court designated as Family Court in the State. The Originating Motion must be backed by the following items, according to Order 6 Rule of the Family Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2012 and Order 6 Rule 3 of the Oyo State Family Court Procedure Rules, 2020:

  1. Statement of Case
  2. Affidavit of facts.
  3. A statement detailing the arrangement for children
  4. All essential documents in support of the application. Usually, the supporting documents should include:
    • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
    • Birth Certificate of the Child
    • Evidence demonstrating that it is in the best interest of the child to grant the Applicant sole custody.
  5. Statement of truth

Service of the Processes and Response from the other Parent

After filing the court processes, same will be served on the other parent and the parent will be given the opportunity to respond to the content of the processes.

Court Hearing and Decision

At the hearing of the matter, the Court shall evaluate the application and the response of the other parent (if any). The Court will then issue a decision based on the best interests of the child. If the court grants the application, a sole custody order outlining the rights and responsibilities of the parent will be issued.


Sole custody matters in Nigeria involve legal processes that prioritize the best interests of the child. Every case is unique and it is advisable to seek legal guidance to ensure a favourable outcome.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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