For couples who are choosing to live together, it’s important that if they are not marrying or entering a civil partnership, they should seek professional advice.
The implications for couples who cohabit is that because their relationship does not have any legal status as the law currently stands (there is no such thing as ‘common law husband/wife in South-Africa ) there is potential for financial difficulties and losses if the relationship breaks down in the future.
It is a common misunderstanding that the longer a couple lives together, the greater is their prospect for automatic claims and entitlements – this is untrue. No claims are acquired regardless of whether the relationship is short or long. In the absence of marriage or civil partnership, which benefit from laws that govern how to deal with the breakdown by divorce or dissolution and the financial claims affected by that, an unmarried couple must rely on complex property law to establish who owns what, upon separation.
So to avoid uncertainty about rights and obligations on relationship breakdown, a couple thinking of cohabiting or even already in a cohabiting relationship, are advised to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement (Living Together Agreement).
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