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A study of the practice of Multi-tiered marriage in Nigerian Family Law

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Nigeria is a heterogeneous society and the heterogeneity reflects in virtually all the social legal institutions in the country including marriage contracts. The Nigerian law recognises three systems of marriage, which are the customary law marriage, Islamic law marriage and statutory marriage. Each marriage is governed by distinct rules derived from their substantive laws. But a new form of marriage contract has evolved in the country – the multi-tiered marriage contract. This form of marriage is believed to have problems in the operation of family law in the country. The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature of multi-tiered marriage; investigate the causes of this type of marriage and highlight its effects on the Nigerian family law. The research employs the use of data from unstructured interviews and legal doctrinal content analysis. The paper uses purposive sampling method to determine the research sample. The research population includes married couples who contracted the multi-tiered marriage. It is found that globalisation has contributed reasonably to the increase in the practice of multi-tiered marriage in the contemporary Nigerian society. The paper finds that there are both legal and social reasons for celebrating the multi-tiered marriage contract in Nigeria.

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A study of the practice of Multi-tiered marriage in Nigerian Family Law

  1. 1. A STUDY OF THE PRACTICE OF MULTI- TIERED MARRIAGE PRACTICE IN NIGERIAN FAMILY LAW Imam-Tamim, M. Kamaldeen Najibah Mohd Zin Norliah Ibrahim Roslina Che Soh @ Yusoff Presented at the 2015 International Conference on Law & Society (ICLAS IV) held at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), Terengganu, Malaysia on 10th June 2015.
  2. 2. OUTLINE  Introduction  Multi-tiered marriage in Nigeria  Causes of Multi-tiered marriage in Nigeria  Effects of the practice of multi-tiered marriage on family law and procedure in Nigeria  Conclusion
  3. 3. Introduction  There are officially three types of marriage in Nigeria – customary, Islamic and statutory marriages.  A fourth type of marriage has evolved - multi-tiered marriage.  The celebration of multi-tiered marriage contract is rampant in Nigeria even though it has no official legal backing.  A 2003 survey showed that out of 430 married persons investigated, 210 celebrated multi-tiered marriage contracts. This gives 48% of the population.  Similarly, out of the 20 respondents for this study, 11 contracted multi-tiered marriages. This gives 55%.  This shows that this type of marriage is still highly rampant.  The practice of contracting a multi-tiered marriage has created legal problems in the operation of family law in the country.
  4. 4. Multi-tiered marriage in Nigeria  A type of marriage that involves same couple who celebrate a marriage under one system of law and then celebrate a subsequent marriage under another system” by performing the respective legal essentials to each type of the marriages celebrated.  This kind of marriage entails intersection of different systems of marriage laws in marriage and divorce situations.  Arises mostly in family law systems that have more than one family law systems whereby “jurisdiction over marriage and divorce matters is shared between different authorities.
  5. 5. Causes of Multi-tiered marriage in Nigeria
  6. 6. EFFECTS OF THE PRACTICE OF MULTI-TIERED MARRIAGE ON FAMILY LAW AND PROCEDURE IN NIGERIA  Where a person contracts his marriage under a certain system of law, his family and personal law affairs during and after the marriage will be presumed by law to be regulated by the rules applicable under that system of law under which he contracted the marriage.  From this background, if parties contract marriage under more than one system of law, they are bound by the respective systems of law under which their marriage was celebrated.  Thus, plural systems of marriage laws apply to the parties.
  7. 7. EFFECTS OF THE PRACTICE OF MULTI-TIERED MARRIAGE, cont’d…
  8. 8. Conclusion  The major finding in this study is that the celebration of multi-tiered marriage contract could constitute various adverse legal implications.  There is need for the reform of the Nigerian family law.  The reform should follow multi-track and must be approached pragmatically in order to be effective.  The reform commission must embark on an empirical study of the society to evolve an acceptable uniform reform that will be acceptable to the people who are highly heterogenic and multi-cultural.
  9. 9. Questions and comments are welcome

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