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.

Legal Requirements for Weddings in South Africa
Legal FAQ’s for Weddings in South Africa
Can I get married on a beach or anywhere outdoors?
Same-Sex Marriages in South Africa
To Take His Name or Not to Take His Name


  • monique

    Hi i would like to find out i have only been married a month, but when my husband and i fill out forms it always states how are you married. Now i know that we used the Accrual system, is that in comunnity of property?

  • sa wedding

    Dear Monique

    If you have been married by Accural System then that is how you are married.
    If you read the explanations in the above article, you’ll see that the Accural System is almost like being married in community of property, but….. not.
    I can only try to clear it up a little further for you like this:
    In The Accural System, what you and your husband had before your marriage will remain yours or his but whatever is acquired after your marriage is added and then divided by two.

    I hope this clears it up for you.

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding

  • Etienne

    Being married with the application of the accrual system is legally a marriage out of community of property as both parties retain their separate estates.

    The application of the accrual system affords one party a claim against the other party’s estate at the dissolution of the marriage.

    The calculation of this claim has similarities with a marriage in community of property, but none of the disadvantages such as one estate for both spouses which can be attacked by creditors.

    Best regards,

  • mientjie

    What does the law say if I want to marry my grandfathers sisters son?

  • sa wedding

    Dear Mientjie,

    Please follow this link for a full list of whom you may not marry, provided by the Department of Home Affairs. (see column 2 for women who want to get married)

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding

  • Getting Married at Home Affairs | SA Wedding Guide

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