Marriage, Civil Unions, Common Law Unions And Divorce Law
Marriage is considered a legal union and the dissolution of this union must therefore follow the dictates of divorce law in South Africa. This is necessary whether you were married legally in a court of law or whether you were married in a church or other type of religious ceremony. Divorce law in South Africa recognises civil unions between same sex couples as well as common law marriages. Common law marriages are unions where a couple can be considered to fulfil the requirements of a marriage such as co-habiting for a certain period of time and entering into intimate relations with one another.
Although divorce law and procedures are very similar for legal marriages and civil unions of same sex couples, the procedures for the dissolution of common law marriages can be more involved. This is due to the fact that a common law marriage will need to be proven before divorce law can come into play. A couple in a common law marriage can simply walk away from each other without any legal consequence but the problem arises when the redistribution of their assets that were accumulated while they were co-habiting comes into play.
Once it has been proven that the couple have indeed fulfilled the requirements for common law marriage, the mediation process in divorce law can commence. As the union was never formal, there will be no evidence of what type of marriage the couple entered into. The courts will then assume that they were married in community of property which means that all assets will halved between the couple. All assets brought to the marriage will return to the existing owner of the property unless there are any mitigating circumstances or agreements that can be provided that determine otherwise.
To get more information on how divorce law works and the procedures that need to be followed to file for a divorce, please visit our entire website devoted to divorce, at Jansens Egskeiding Forum.