It is the season where Cupid’s arrow is most active. It is known around the world as Valentine’s day. So if the arrow considers to strike two persons, does the law concern itself at all with Cupid’s business? Worthy question. And the answer is that the law does visit Cupid’s business too. So while the love portions or text messages are working, you would need some basic information too.

To deal with this, we have raised and answered some frequently asked questions bothering on Valentine’s day ‘shenanigans’.
Here we go.

Question 1-
What if from our Val’s day outing, he gets me pregnant and chooses not to care for me and my child?
The principal law that governs the care of children is the Child Rights Act as passed into law by the National Assembly. However, some States have also enacted their Child’s Rights Law.

From the very first section, the Child’s Rights Law expressly states that ‘the best interest of the child is its primary consideration.’ So how does it play out in this scenario? In ensuring the best interest of a child, the Child’s Right Law has made it clear that every child has the right to parental care. The right to parental care includes the right to be maintained by the father or mother of the child. The Child’s Right Act also gives the Court the power to order that the father of a child should make contributions towards the maintenance of that child.

The scope of the Child’s Rights Law also extends to cover the unborn child – Section 17 of the Child’s Right Act 2003. In reality, a likely situation where this could play out where the father of the unborn child not only refuses to take care of the unborn child or denies the responsibility of taking care of the child but also actively seeks to hurt the unborn child.

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In addition to the provisions of the Child’s Rights Act/Laws is the provision of the Criminal Law of Lagos State (which applies only to Lagos State). It is a rather interesting provision of law. This provision of the law (Section 279) makes it a crime for a man to impregnate a woman or girl and refuse or neglect to contribute towards the lady’s necessaries like her medical and food expenses. Therefore in Lagos, the law is that once a man gets her pregnant, running from his responsibility is a crime. You might also be interested in seeing Section 278 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.

Question 2 –
How about if a guy gives money to a lady to visit on Valentine’s day and she doesn’t turn up, is there remedy in law?

So, it’s Valentine’s day and you have asked to take this beautiful damsel you have been toasting for a while out for a treat. She indicates her desire to go out with you but complains of lack of funds for her transportation to the meeting venue. You are love struck, therefore you send the money to her to cover her transport expenses. Your lady receives the money and ‘bounces’ you. You’re now fuming with rage and even contemplating a legal action against her. Perhaps you’ve heard that contractual relationships are regulated by law and conclude that your situation should fall in that category.

Sorry to burst your bubbles. Your case doesn’t fall within the category and as such you don’t have a remedy under the law of contract. You can however seek for redress under the criminal law. Here you will have to make a complaint to the police (further details withheld). The police may then arrest the lady and charge her to court.

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I doubt though that you would want to explore this option against someone you claim to love. But be it as it may, we have to discharge our duty by letting you know what the law is as it concerns your situation.

Question 3
Guys, I need help. My Fiancee broke up with me because I took another girl out on Valentine’s day.

On and after Feb 14th as usual, while some experienced their epic love story, some hearts were broken. Whether you felt loved or you got your heart broken, the good news is that you learnt your true position in your partner’s life. While a heartbroken boyfriend/girlfriend may not have remedies for heartbreaks under the law, a heartbroken fiancé/fiancée is protected under the law.
This is because a fiancé/fiancée relationship is one which there has been a promise to marry – engagement, and both parties agreed to be married at a later date.

A breach of this relationship may take one of two forms:

  1. Non-performance – this is when one party fails/refuses to go ahead with the turn up, and marry the other. For instance, standing up your bride on the alter is a breach.
  2. Anticipatory breach – here, the defaulting party either out rightly announces their intention to discontinue with the agreement to marry, or does an act that puts it out of his power to perform his obligation, like marrying another.

While adultery is one of the facts upon which a spouse can petition for divorce under section 15 (2)(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, that’s as far as it goes. Infidelity, unfaithfulness or promiscuity is arguably not a ground for calling off an engagement in itself. However, depending on circumstances, a heartbroken partner maybe able to justify the break off of the engagement on question of morality of the partner who cheated.

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Last words –
The law affects relationships in Nigeria more than most persons know. We have addressed most of these in our previous articles dealing with how the law and relationships interact. They make an interesting read too.

It is also necessary to add that when it comes to sexual relations on Valentine’s day, the law on rape is still unharmed. In effect, forcing one’s way on a lady without her consent (whether in the heat of the day or not) is still an offense.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at LAWgically Speaking Nigeria.