Marriage and South African Law
Marriage is a union on many levels. It symbolises the love of two people who plan to spend the rest of their live together. It also creates a partnership or regime in the eyes of the law.
The following three concepts are critical to the contractual marriage law:
In Community of Property
If you don’t sign an ANC (antenuptial contract), you are automatically married in community of property. Under this contract, each partner immediately owns half of the joint estate. However, they are also each responsible for one half of their joint debt.
If things go wrong and the marriage ends, each partner gets 50% of the joint estate. But if the estate is seized, both partners’ share is fair game for hungry creditors.
Out of Community of Property
Marriage out of community of property involves a couple signing an (ANC) antenuptial contract before tying the knot.
It ensures you remain sole owner of your property i.e what you brought in, you take out. It’s a good system for partners who both have an income and property, and for subsequent marriages with children from previous unions involved. With an ANC, the accrual system automatically applies.
The Accrual System
Under this arrangement, what you brought into the marriage remains yours. If you get divorced, the increased value of both partners’ assets is added and divided by two with each partner due half the value.
Most people opt for the accrual system as it usually pans out the fairest. If you’re in any doubt, consult an independent attorney for guidance.
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