You asked and she said ‘Yes.’ The excitement quickly gives way to panic as you both realise what it takes to plan a wedding. And then you realise that there are legalities required – the daunting world of marriage contract options and legal preparations that cannot be avoided. That is why a visit to an attorney/prokureur is a necessary addition to your to-do list as the big day approaches.
An important decision for any couple to make before starting their life together is what type of marital contract or cohabitation agreement to enter into. This can get confusing, and an attorney/prokureur is your best source of expertise in navigating all these complexities and reducing further stress.
A marriage contract or agreement is not just to protect both parties in the case of a divorce. Legal protection, drawn up by an attorney/prokureur, is a wise consideration, helping to protect each party against a number of financial risks linked to business debt and even death.
As you plan your wedding, doing your research together with an attorney/prokureur is important and will give both of you peace of mind.
Antenuptial contracts (ANC’s) are the most common marriage contracts and it is advisable to engage the services of a qualified attorney/prokureur, specialising in family law, who can explain the various options best suited to your unique circumstances. There are two ANC options for being married out of community property, one with accrual. Your attorney/prokureur will explain the nuances and differences and advise you accordingly.
According to South African law, if you decide against an ANC or other formal agreement, you will automatically be married in community of property. This means that everything you own – before your marriage and accrued during your marriage – will be divided equally between you and your partner. In the case of a divorce, all assets and debts will then be split down the middle. This may have unintended consequences. Even if you choose to be married in community of property, it is advisable to understand exactly what this entails going forward.
A further risk of skipping the services of an attorney/prokureur – and being married in community of property by default – is the scenario of one partner accumulating a large debt or perhaps being cheated in a business deal. The other partner would then also be held liable for that debt.
Just an hour or two with a family law attorney/prokureur is all it takes to ensure that your marriage, from a legal point of view, starts off on the right footing.
Louw & Da Silva:
At Louw and Da Silva, our vibrant team of attorneys and conveyancers has comprehensive experience and offers legal solutions in a wide range of focus and practice areas. We are committed to all our clients receiving professional and exceptional service.
Contact us to book a consultation with one of our dynamic attorneys/prokureurs.