As a bride and groom-to-be, one of the most important matters you will need to consider are the legal options available to you when getting married. Far from indicating a lack of trust and commitment, an antenuptial contract is well advised for responsible financial management during a marriage. To help you begin thinking about the legal options available to you, here is a brief description of these options in simple terms.
What options are available to you?
Marriage in Community of Property
Without signing a specially prepared antenuptial contract before you get married, you will be married “in community of property” meaning that the separate estates, comprising your assets and debts you held before the marriage, meld into one joint estate and each spouse is an owner of one half of an undivided share. The advantage of this system is that it treats both of you equally. The disadvantage is that as both spouses are jointly and severally liable if one of you has or gets into debt or becomes insolvent.
Marriage out of Community of Property without Accrual
Each of you keeps your separate estates, both assets and debts. An increase or decrease in the respective estates during the marriage affects only the relevant spouse. You remain financially independent of one another. It may lead to an unequal distribution of assets, as non-monetary contributions to the union are not recognised.
Marriage out of Community of Property with Accrual
This system combines the best parts of the other two systems. The advantage of this system is that if one of you gets into financial trouble then the other one is able to retain his/her assets and you are not both dragged down by the financial misfortune. It is based on the idea that both of you will contribute equally to the union and should therefore share equally in the benefits gained during the union. The Accrual System recognises emotional and physical support as contributions in addition to financial ones.
Note sure which option is right for you and how much it will cost?
I enjoy meeting with couples to discuss the legal options available to them. Should it be inconvenient for you to come to my office, I can obtain all the information I require and answer all queries by email.
My fee for the antenuptial contract is normally R4 030.00, including the tariff amount for drafting of the contract, a 30 minute consultation, postage and petties, and the Deeds Office fee for processing the contract (R330.00). Any further consultation necessary will be charged for at a cost commensurate with the time spent.
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