It’s probably the last thing you would want to think of, while you’re planning a beautiful wedding, but don’t forget to sort out your Ante-nuptial Contract before you get married. We’ve compiled a quick summary of the 3 matrimonial systems in South Africa.

In community of property

If you don’t sign an Ante-nuptial Contract before you get married, you are automatically married ‘in community of property’. This means that everything you have, including your debt, before you get married and that you acquire during your marriage, is shared by both of you.

The advantage of this system is that it treats the two of you equally. The disadvantage is that both spouses are jointly and severally liable for each other’s debts. So if your husband is declared insolvent, you will be responsible for his debt. Be careful of this system, especially if you or your spouse own your own businesses.

Out of community of property without accrual

In this case, each of you keeps separate ownership of everything that you bring into, and acquire, during the marriage. This also includes any debt either of you might have. So if one of you gets into financial trouble, the other one will be able to keep their assets. It gives the spouse who is not in financial troubles safety.

The disadvantage of this system is that it leads to an unequal distribution of assets. Especially if you do not earn equally or one of you takes care of the home and the children. These are non-monetary contributions, and they are not compensated.

Out of community of property with the accrual system

This system is based on the idea that both of you will contribute equally to the marriage and you will therefore share the benefits equally. The accrual system recognises emotional and physical support as contributions, as well as financial ones. You are furthermore protected from the debts (and possible insolvency) of your spouse.

If you choose this system, you will each need to list your assets and debts and note anything of special sentimental or financial value. After these lists have been recorded and your contract signed, the total financial gain made together is shared between both of you equally if your marriage ends.