On the 30th of April 2014, Muslim marriages became recognised as legal in the eyes of the South African law. This change has been described as being more than 300 years in the making.
In the past, couples who got married under the Muslim rites were not offered the same rights as couples who got married under the South African civil law.
While the rights of a spouse in a civil marriage are protected under the community of property regime, Muslim couples did not receive the same level of protection under Muslim rites.
The lack of recognition that Muslim marriages received from the South African law has had some devastatingly unfair consequences, especially on female spouses who had no rights to any inheritance after their husbands died, and whose children were considered to be illegitimate even though they were born in a marriage.
More than 100 Muslim clerics (Imams) were recently appointed as marriage officers, after graduating from a course focussing on the law of marriage.
The graduation of these Imams has allowed them to officiate over Muslim unions, making Muslim marriages legal under South African law.
Under the Islamic Law, the Muslim union is classified as being 'out of community of property'. Therefore, when the marriage dissolves, each spouse will be able to retain the assets that had accrued in his or her separate estate.
However, in order for a wife to protect her rights to any of her assets that may be registered in her husband's name, she will have to register those assets in her own name.
The new law, however, has not been specific when it comes to dealing with divorce. Since every marriage conducted by an Imam is considered to be 'out of community of property', it is recommended that couples enter into an antenuptial contract before getting married, in order to protect each other's assets in the event of a divorce or death.
If you are planning your Muslim wedding and would like to have an antenuptial contract drawn up in order to protect your assets as well as that of your spouse, contact Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated today.
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