Marriage & Matrimonial Property
The law in South Africa provides for couples to choose the type of matrimonial property system they prefer when entering into marriages. For those who prefer to be married out of community of property, it is required that they execute a valid Antenuptial Contract before entering into the marriage.
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In South Africa an Antenuptial Contract (ANC) ought to adhere to certain prescribed formalities to be recognised as legally valid. This is very important in many respects, as spouses may later find out after so many years that the Antenuptial contract they thought was valid was, all along, not valid.
In our previous discussion on this topic, we noted that the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998 (the Act) [as amended] was promulgated to formalize customary marriages in South Africa.
From our experience, we have discovered that there is quite a number of couples whom the law recognizes as married under customary law, whereas the couples consider themselves not. It comes as a shock when they are eventually advised that in fact the law recognizes them as married. Most often this happens where families conduct indigenous customary marriage rites in anticipation of a “white” wedding at a later stage. In this discussion we will debunk some myths and share insights with regard to customary marriages.
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There are a number of reasons why couples may opt to remain unmarried. The reasons are various, from estate planning to career considerations, religious reasons, family relations and even the lure of independence as an individual.
In this age of massive information dissemination on the cyberspace, the growth of information sources on various platforms has led us to believe that many people are now familiar with what marriage in community of property is, at least in its most basic form. For laymen that is enough and useful, because to go anywhere beyond that point would require a qualified legal practitioner to assist e.g. divorces, Antenuptial Contracts etc.
Further to the usual partying of the festive season, it is also a time where many couples schedule weddings to celebrate tying the knot. The huge pressure and strain that comes with organising and putting together a wedding more often leaves some little but important details unattended to. Unfortunately for some, the importance of these minor details only becomes manifest when the spouses are already in their new home.
In the English language vocabulary context, accrual means what has been accrued or gained. In the legal context, the same meaning does apply and in the context of matrimonial property systems, accrual means what has been added to or gained apart from what has been there before.
South African matrimonial property regulation recognises three distinct regimes being the marriage in Community of Property, Out of Community of Property with the Accrual system and the Out of Community of Property without the Accrual system.
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