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Living together does not entitle you to your partner’s assets

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Common law marriages are not recognised in South African law. The amount of time a couple has been living together does not translate into a “default marriage”. As such, the laws that protect individuals in a marital relationship will not apply to couples who live together.

In the case of a break-up, the law as it stands provides that all assets will simply be divided according to who owns each asset and maintenance is not payable to either of the partners.

Where one partner has bought immovable property during the subsistence of the relationship and it is registered solely in his name, the partner who does not have official ownership will not be entitled to a part of the profit or the value of the property upon breaking up. The only option available is for this partner to prove the existence of a universal partnership.

It is always advisable for couples who live together to formally regulate their relationship with a co-habitation agreement. This agreement will secure each partner’s assets and provide ease of mind when the relationship comes to an end.


10 ways co-habiting can go wrong


Who is Tiaan van der Berg?

MC van der Berg, of MC van der Berg Incorporated.

MC van der Berg, of MC van der Berg Incorporated.

M.C. (Tiaan) van der Berg, BLC LLB LLM (UP) H. Dip Labour (UJ) Dip ADR (AFSA/UP), is an admitted attorney, conveyancer and notary, and the founding director of M.C. van der Berg Incorporated, a legal practice specialising in property law. He is also the co-director of Mcademy Training Institute.

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