Marriage Law in Nigeria: The Dilemma of Legal Pluralism

Marriage Law in Nigeria: The Dilemma of Legal Pluralism

Author by Dr. Dorcas Odunaike

Language: English

Abstract

The notion of legal pluralism has become a major topic in legal anthropology and socio-legal studies. Every academic discipline has its own paradigms and knowledge base, so it is unusual to see a single notion penetrate so many different disciplines . Legal Pluralism is multiplicity of legal orders, it ranges from local government laws, to state laws to federal laws, in addition to which there are customary laws, connected to different ethnic groups within the society. The co-existence of English Law and customary law is a common feature of Nigerian legal system, no thanks to colonialism and the inadequacies (poorly harmonised nature) of customary laws which made it imperative to depend on English laws in the event of a lacuna. In family law, legal pluralism has affected issues of forms of marriage, dissolution of marriage, maintenance and settlement of property amongst others. The aim of this paper is to examine the forms of legal pluralism in marriage law in Nigeria; appraise the dilemma of legal pluralism in Nigerian family law as well as the influence of the choice of an individual over the terms of the marriage contract. It argues, from a theoretical perspective of legal pluralism, that since law and culture are closely linked, reforms in existing family laws should be introduced to facilitate a legal system that provides the maximum possible justice to all people.


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