Getting married is a huge milestone in many peoples’ lives. It’s a moment characterised by love, joy and fulfilment. There are various laws that govern the way two people are joined in marriage. It’s vital that both partners are legally protected.
In South Africa, if a couple is married without an antenuptial contract, they are automatically married in community of property. This form of marriage means that couples have a joint estate, whereby everything is shared. Couples have joint responsibility for debts and liabilities incurred. It can become problematic when one of the partners faces insolvency or financial trouble. In the case of a divorce, there is no guarantee of who will receive what.
For this reason, it may be beneficial for a couple to get an antenuptial contract before getting married.
An antenuptial contract serves to clarify the property ownership rights of each individual prior to being legally married.
What benefits are associated with antenuptial contracts?
- They are highly effective in eliminating disputes
- They are signed before a marriage is legally certified, so both parties understand the terms.
- Each individual’s respective estate remains under their sole ownership
- Debts and liabilities remain the sole responsibility of each individual
- There is an option made to personalise the contract, provided that it does not fall outside the confines of the law
- Parties can decide on certain assets that will not become part of the joint estate and those that will
- Each individual can choose to exclude a certain amount of money they don’t wish to share as part of the joint estate
- Parties have the opportunity to specify whether they want the accrual system to apply or not. If no indication is given, this system will apply, so any assets accumulated throughout the course of the marriage will be shared in the event of a divorce.
Having an antenuptial contract comes highly recommended by many legal experts. This contract helps to provide individuals with foresight before marriage.
Various law firms provide services relating to antenuptial contracts.