Many couples have the dream of getting married abroad in an exotic destination, but there are certain pitfalls that can come from doing this.
South African marital laws presume that a woman’s home is with her husband’s home and when they get married, the woman is legally bound by the laws of the country he treats as his home.
In other words, if a South African woman gets married to a foreigner, the marriage as well as the dissolution of the marriage will be dealt with as per his country’s marital regime.
For example, if a South African woman gets married in South Africa to a man who is domiciled in America, American marital laws will apply.
Couples getting married abroad, or those planning to do so must first take into consideration which county’s laws will apply to their marriage before they tie the knot.
Furthermore, should the couple wish to get married with an antenuptial contract, they must enter into the contract before leaving the country.
Should they neglect to enter into an antenuptial contract before leaving the country, they will automatically be married in community of property.
To amend this after tying the knot, the couple will have to apply to courts to do so and will be faced with having to pay costs in excess of R30 000.
In South Africa, unless a couple enters into an antenuptial contract, they are automatically married in community of property.
Being married in community of property means that all assets, liabilities and debts acquired by the individuals before the marriage and as a couple after the marriage, form part of the joint estate.
This can result in major financial loss, as the individuals will be held jointly liable for financial short-comings.
In countries like the United Kingdom, however, state that couples are automatically married out of community of property with accrual as this is the fairest type of union.
Although antenuptial contracts have a stigma attached to them, this is the safest way to get married should a couple wish to protect their individual assets.
Therefore, before getting married abroad, it’s important for couples to thoroughly investigate the laws of the respective country.
For more information on this matter, or for legal assistance with setting up an antenuptial contract before you tie the knot, please contact our attorneys in Cape Town and Johannesburg today.
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