South Africans intending to tie the knot automatically enter into marriage in community of property when they say ‘I do’.
This marriage contract is all about sharing, with ‘what’s mine is yours’ as the motto. If the marriage end in divorce, all assets are split 50/50. Couples in this marriage contract also assume their partner’s debt.
While this is the most popular marriage contract in the country, many experts advise against it. If, for some reason you decide you no longer want to be married in community of property, you’re in luck. Couples may change their marital regime after they are married, although it is a costly process that should be avoided if possible.
Under Section 21(1) of the Matrimonial Property Act, spouses may apply to the court for leave to change the marital property system if:
– There is sound reason for the change
The best reason to give is that you were unaware that marriage in community of property is the default, and you had not intended to enter into this contract.
– All creditors of the spouse are given sufficient notice of the proposed change
All creditors must be notified by certified post, and notice must be given to the Registrar of Deeds, must be published in the Government Gazette and two local newspapers at least two weeks before your application is heard in court.
– The court is satisfied that no other person will be disadvantaged by the proposed change
The court will decide if the change may occur, and will consider your assets and liabilities to determine whether the rights of any creditors will be affected by the change.
If all these requirements have been met, the Court may authorise the change.
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