Journal Article

Extending Family Law to Non-Marital Cohabitation in Nigeria

Michael Attah

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 26, issue 2, pages 162-186
Published in print August 2012 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
Extending Family Law to Non-Marital Cohabitation in Nigeria

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This article is concerned with cohabitation in Nigeria. The main thesis is that most, if not all, of family law’s remedies should be extended to unmarried cohabitants. The argument for such a policy flows through three trajectories: the spate of cohabitation and the progressively changing socio-cultural attitude of Nigerians to this family form; our Constitution’s consistency with the sociological, protectionist, and equality arguments proffered by proponents of this divergent family law; and the inappropriateness of stifling the legal position of cohabitants vis-à-vis the privileged position enjoyed by married couples in the economic and welfare aspects of family law – financial readjustment and property redistribution on breakdown; maintenance and custody of children; and succession upon intestacy. Our conclusion is that these three trajectories should intersect to form a solid platform for family law reform in this direction in order to enhance the socio-economic welfare of cohabitants, especially where there are children.

Journal Article.  11507 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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