AN ANALYSIS OF CHILD CUSTODY LAWS IN NIGERIA UNDER STATUTORY AND ISLAMIC LAW
SAMBA ADANG-O-SHIE JOHN
FACULTY OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN, ILORIN, NIGERIA
The parents seeking divorce will have to battle with the issue of custody, who will the Court grant the custody a child or the children after going through the pains and trauma of a divorce or separation. In the event of a divorce or a separation, matters related to custody of children are addressed under the procedural and substantive norms of the appropriate regime governing the type of marriage. If the parents entered a statutory marriage, celebrated under the Marriage Act, custody decisions will be issued by a High Court and governed by Nigerian legislation. If the parents entered an Islamic marriage, the custody of their children is governed by Islamic law, which is applied by the Sharia courts operating in the northern parts of the country.
This paper discussed custody and the laws governing custody in Nigeria, specifically the provisions of The Child Right Act on custody and Islamic law in Nigeria. Some court decisions on custody were mentioned. This paper is library based, it basically states the guiding principles which the courts will adhere to while deciding custody making reference to some decided cases.
The phrase “Child Custody” is used to describe parental rights and obligations regarding the care of their children. Child custody issues often arise in situations in which unmarried individuals have children or parents who are married get divorced. Custody of children is very important for divorcing or separating parents. Legally speaking, custody is the right given to a parent by a court of competent jurisdiction to make important decisions for a child’s life. These decisions concern in general (but not restricted to): education, health, religion, place of living etc. The parent who is awarded custody is called the custodial parent. The parent without custody rights is called the non-custodial parent. It does not always necessarily mean that the child physically lives with his custodial parent. The custodian parent or the court can decide otherwise and let the child live with the non-custodial parent but this is limited to habitation (physical custody) as the custodial parent will still have full rights over decisions to be taken for and on behalf of the child.[footnoteRef:1] [1: Sokombaa A., The Laws Regulating Custody Of Children http://www.thelawyerschronicle.com/the-laws-regulating-custody-of-children/ accessed on 25/3/2017]
TYPES OF CUSTODY
Physical custody simply refers to where a parent has the right to have a child live with him or her. Joint physical custody can be awarded when the child spends significant amounts of time with both parents. Joint physical custody works best if parents live relatively close to each other, as it lessens the stress on children and allows them to maintain a somewhat...