“My Ex-Wife Denied Me Paternity to My Children Over Bride Price, How Do I Get Them?": Lawyer Reacts

“My Ex-Wife Denied Me Paternity to My Children Over Bride Price, How Do I Get Them?": Lawyer Reacts

  • A Nigerian man has been told he’s not the father of his three biological children because he did not pay the bride price of his ex-wife
  • The 40-year-old man says he is confused, depressed and doesn’t know what to do to get back his children
  • A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, speaks on what the Nigerian constitution says about being a father and paying a woman’s bride price

Legit.ng journalist Adekunle Dada has over 5 years of experience covering metro and government policy

Lagos state - The anonymous person wrote:

“I’m a 40-year-old man with three loving children but have been denied access and paternity by my former wife. She and her family said I’m not the father of the two boys and a girl because I didn’t pay her bride price.

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“Her family claimed that according to their tradition, a man who pays the bride price of a woman’s is the father of her child/children
“All efforts to make them see reason with me have not yielded the desired result. I’m confused, getting depressed and don’t know what to do next.”
Lawyer reacts as Nigerian man is being denied paternity for failing to pay his ex-wife's dowry
Lawyer says dowry does not determine the paternity of a child. Photo credit: Getty image. For illustration purposes only. Depicted person has no relationship with the event described in the material.
Source: Getty Images

Not compatible with Nigeria's constitution

Barrister Inibehe Effiong is the former convener at the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and principal counsel/head of the Chamber of the Inibehe Effiong Chambers.

Under the child’s rights law, every child has the right to parental care and affection. Every child has the right to be cared for by the father and the mother. And every parent also has the right to custody and access. So because there is no basis to deny a man access to his children based on non-payment of bride price and any tradition or culture that allows for such restrictions is illegal and contrary to the rules of natural justice and good conscience.

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It is also incompatible with the constitution of Nigeria, and so, where there are disputes regarding the bride price payment, that should be treated as a separate issue. Bride price cannot affect the right of the child to be cared for by both parents or the right of the father to have custody or access to his child.

The prominent lawyer added that under the child’s rights law, every child has the right to care and the right to parental love. I've also mentioned that by law, every parent has the right to custody and right of access to the child. That is what the law has always been and will continue to be. It is not a question of tradition. Any tradition that uses that kind of restriction cannot stand.

Fatherhood is either by paternity or adoption

Effiong said according to the constitution, a man is seen as the child's father irrespective of paying the bride price or not.

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A father is determined by either paternity or adoption. It is not a question of bride price or even marriage. One doesn't even need to be married to a woman to have children with the person under the law. It is the welfare and interest of the child that is the paramount consideration. Even when the bride price is not paid, custody can be given to the father in a situation where the mother is incapable of catering for the needs of the child or lacks the morals and the discipline to raise the child, the court will give Custody because it is not the interest of the mother or the father that is primary, it is the interest of the child or the court or the law.

Court condemns custom on paternity over dowry

Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that a magistrate court in Akure, Ondo state condemned the Igbo custom which denied a man the paternity right to his children over non-payment of bride price.

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Magistrate Segun Stephen Rotiba declared the custom as barbaric, evil and ungodly for punishing one person when two consenting adults are involved in the act.

The judge stated this while giving his verdict in the case between Prophet Theophilus Obayan, a Yoruba and his estranged wife, Prophetess Chibuzor Lilian, an Igbo woman from Abia state.

Disclaimer: Advice given in this article is general in nature and is not intended to influence readers' decisions about solving issues of paternity. Readers should always seek their own professional advice that takes into account their own personal circumstances before making any decision.

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Source: Legit.ng

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