Domestic partnerships, also known as cohabitation relationships, are growing more prevalent in today's culture, and it's becoming increasingly vital for parties to grasp the legal differences between being married and just cohabiting. Domestic partners do not have the same constitutional immunity as married couples when it comes to maintenance claims, asset distribution, or succession once the partnership ends.
Marriages, civil unions, and customary marriages are the three types of completely legally recognized partnerships in the South African legal system. In today's culture, however, it is becoming increasingly normal for couples to live together in domestic relationships rather than marry. It is critical for the participants in these partnerships to understand that there is little to no legal protection in place.
The general rule for domestic partnerships was laid down in Butters v Mncora: A domestic partnership does not give rise to any special legal consequences, such as that of a marriage or a civil union.
In 2006, the South African Law Reform Commission acknowledged the need for legal protection to be granted and drafted the “Draft Domestic Partnership Bill.” Parliament has however shown no urgency to pass the Draft Bill, and the legal position in South Africa thus remains unchanged.
In the event of death or breakup without a cohabitation agreement, you and your partner may be treated as legal strangers. JLS Attorneys helps you to draw up a binding agreement that protects parties from unnecessary costs and litigation should their cohabitation break down.