Child Support, Alimony and Palimony: Coming Soon to Nigeria

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

One of the Beatles great, Sir John Paul McCartney toiled for about four decades and in the process amassed about $1.5 billion wealth. After the death of his wife of 30 or so years, he married Heather Mills. And now Paul is going to part with $200-400 million in cash, real estate, and other valuables after four or so years of marriage? Poor Paul, against all advice, he refused to have Heather sign a prenuptial. And now he is going to pay for his mistake. Damn, doesn’t life suck? Well, sometimes, it does! Hey fellas, when it is your turn, please have her sign the damn papers. Love is good; but not good enough!

Over the years, there have been famous cases of alimony, palimony, child support and all sorts of “marital penalties.” A few of the really smart men have been able to avoid hefty alimony and child support. Well, one could look at it this way: there have some really smart women who “stick it” to their men and got away with hefty alimony and child support payment. What I don’t get is this: how much food does a five year old eat a month; and how much clothing and medicine and other essential does he/she need that warrants the husband parting with one hundred and fifty thousand dollars per month?

Not only do you pay child support, you also provide housing and insurance and nanny care and other status-symbol amenities. Damn, rich people and their wahala. If Bill Gates ever leaves his wife, Melissa, oh heavens — unless there is a prenuptial in place — he can expect to part with about forty percent of his wealth. Not bad, not bad at all as she too would end up a billionaire three times over. Hey, say what you may about Donald Trump — the fellow is really smart. He assign dollar amount to every kiss and domestic work and to every minute of foreplay and sexual intercourse and the number of children given him by women in his life. In the worldview of Trump, love is good; but only after you sign on the dotted lines. Gee, I don’t blame him for his pragmatism.

No one is saying women are not entitled to anything. Oh no; but common, 30-50% of a man’s total wealth? That’s pushing it, that’s greedy and injurious. If they were business partners, before and during the marriage that’s reasonable; but to say an ex-wife is entitled to that much of her husband’s wealth all because she provided this and that and that and this? An acquaintance has come up with a solution to this pesky and potentially harmful marital expectation. This was how he put it: (1) negotiate wages for the amount of time she spend cooking and cleaning; (2) put a price tag on sex; (3) triple the price tag on sex if it results in pregnancy; (4) further increase the amount if the pregnancy results in the birth of a child; and (5) set aside a specific amount every month for the child’s use. In the event of a divorce, pay her 75% of how much she otherwise would have earned if she had stayed in the labor market. I don’t know if this type of arrangement is viable, though.

Some of us don’t have to worry about things like this. I know I don’t! I checked the balance of my savings and checking account last week – I had only one hundred and twenty-five dollars left. Paltry $125.00! I have no stocks or bond or any sort of investment portfolio. So I guess a church-rat like me won’t be talking prenup anytime soon. You have to be really high on the money ladder to even think about something like that. I don’t know about my friends Paul I. Adujie and Michael Oluwagbemi. Both fellas are loaded therefore I’d be calling them first thing tomorrow to see if they have their prenups ready. Paul is a lawyer, so he is in the know about such things. The dude is not just a lawyer, he is an IT expert. As for Michael…that Busanga of a fellow…very rich with his own private businesses and a yacht sailing on the Mediterranean Sea. Ladies, if you are interested in Paul or Michael please come with your pens — not pencils — ready to sign the prenuptial agreement.

A few years ago there was a celebrated case in the United Kingdom wherein a Nigerian sought alimony from her millionaire husband. He may have been a billionaire. I don’t quite remember the case or the name of the rich fellow. Nonetheless I do remember that because the marriage took place in Nigeria, the man wanted the case settled in Nigeria or something to that effect. If she was dumb to agree to such reasoning I can bet my two cents that she was taken to the cleaners. And even if she pursued the case in the UK, some family members and “culture” would compel her to settle out of court. Haven never lived in the UK I wonder how many Nigerian women successfully sued their ex lovers and husbands for alimony or child support.

In the US and Canada, most of the Nigerian men are way too poor for the women to even bother with alimony. Child support? Yes, yes, indeed; but alimony? Ha, that will come to fruition the day it starts snowing in Ibadan. I have lots of friends. And I know people who know Mr. A who then knows Dr. G who knows pastor K who know Mrs. Iginla and also know Professor MPQ. Still, I don’t know of any Nigeria who is being sued for alimony.When a friend of a friend of a friend was going to be sued for child support, he simply made some wuruwuru by consulting his pastor and Babalawo and then sweet-talked his in-laws and his own parents back home to jointly send for the three children to return to Nigeria so they “can have better life growing up with their grannies in an atmosphere of love and culture free from the evil of American inner city life…” This paddy in question now lives with his well-off Caucasian girlfriend in a gated community in the west coast. The ex, the Nigerian ex-wife is a CNA toiling night and day somewhere in Florida.

Here is the related story of a casual acquaintance who, without fail, sends eight hundred ($800) home every month through western union or through hand-delivery. Somewhere in the better part of Port Harcourt is a row of flats she has been building the last six years with the child support payment she gets from her ex. By the way: her ex was responsible for her tuition, room and board and books while she was a student at the University of Benin. Simply put, this “unfortunate” man has been paying her, one way or the other, for the past eleven years. He is not only sad, he is bitter and angry and depressed. I wonder what goes through his mind every time he sees her in the embrace of her current lover (who was her ex husband’s roommate way back at UNN-NSUKKA). He completes his joint JD/PhD degree in a few months and will then get the hell out of the US. Will the long arm of the law reach him in Nigeria?

Anyway, let me shift gear. I don’t know how long it takes for the courts to hear child support cases in Nigeria. I really don’t but you know how slow our judiciary is. There may have been some successful cases; but I wonder how long it took for the case to be disposed of. As for alimony, well, I am not even sure if we have such laws in the books. May be we do…I simply don’t know. As for palimony, hahaha won’t that be something: a Nigerian asking to be paid and supported by his estranged or divorced wife? But knowing how crafty and sneaky and secretive humans are, I won’t be surprised if there are informal arrangements going on in our society. But trust my naija man…he gets paid and will still find his way under her sheets. Sense of entitlement, you’d say.

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Multioption June 14, 2006 - 6:32 pm

The celebrated United Kingdom case involved the Oluwo Deinde Fernadez and one of his wives.

Reply June 14, 2006 - 4:39 pm

Good piece. I agree with paying child support. I also agree that in a divorce, women should not ask for alimony. It is somewhat demeaning. Go out and get a job. Of course there are extenuating circumstances where the woman cannot work stemming from an arrangement during the marriage e.g. leaving the workforce to raise five children. it may be hard for her to get back to work. I mean who will hire an female engineer who has not worked in 15 years? In cases like this, I think the woman can be supported up to a point where she is deemed to be able to stand on her own feet…say two years or so…

As for the goldiggers and those that are just plain angry at their loved ones' betrayal, they will continue to milk the legal system for alimony, palimony and everything in between. Ah, when love turns to hate…


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