Love

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” Aristotle

This may be an extremely unromantic thought, but what if things do not work out and the two bodies decide to go their separate ways? What if the love doesn’t last?

Without going into too much detail and adding that some loves are wonderful, definitely add to who you are as a person, teach you many lessons, but are not meant to last forever… let’s rather stick to what we know: the law and how to protect your best interests.

1. If marriage is not your thing: 
Some people call marriage old fashioned. The best advice in this case is to draw up a Domestic Partnership Agreement. This is a contract used by heterosexual as well as same sex couples in an attempt to set out the material rights and obligations of their long term relationship.

This contract furthermore recognizes that both parties contributed to the household in some or other way and should not walk away empty handed, regardless of the fact that everything might be in one partner’s name. This includes, but is not limited to, arrangements concerning the property, pets, furniture items purchased together, etc.

Remember that your cohabitation is not expressly legally recognized without a Domestic Partnership Agreement/ valid Marriage (heterosexual couples)/ Civil Union (heterosexual or same sex couples). Depending on the amount of years spent together, amongst others, you could try argue the existence of an implied Partnership in Court, but this is very difficult to prove.

Our legislators are in the process of addressing the abovementioned inequalities (unfortunately statistics show that usually women with children are left out in the cold). However, the Domestic Partnership Bill (draft law) is dragging its feet.

2. If you are planning to get married: 
First things first, consider drawing up an Ante-Nuptial Agreement as soon as possible. This is a contract that sets out your marriage’s matrimonial property regime/ financial arrangement. Marriage is about more than love, it is also a legal agreement between two parties.

Without it you are married IN community of property by default. With it you may be married OUT of community of property with the accrual system or OUT of community of property WITHOUT the accrual system.

In community of property means that everything your spouse owes and owns also belong to you (and vice versa). Even that property you bought before you got married. Even the debt you collected before or after your marriage. Out of community of property with the accrual means that you may share everything you gained after your marriage. Out of community of property without the accrual means that you do not share a joint/shared/ common estate.

3. If you are already married and considering a divorce: 
When it comes to divorce, the less traumatic and a beneficial solution to all parties by far is an Unopposed Divorce. Especially if there are children involved.

An Unopposed Divorce means that both parties agree on what is to happen with the house, the bond and the children’s visitation rights (every second weekend/ second birthday/ holidays), etc. Arrangements are then mutually decided upon and put together in a Settlement Agreement before a legal professional applies to Court to confirm the divorce.

An Opposed Divorce means that the parties do not agree and need to battle it out in a lengthy Court case subject to heavy delays.

4. Regardless of the surrounding circumstances, draw up a valid Will. 
Are your affairs in order? What happens in the most unfortunate event that you pass on tomorrow?

DIY Wills are dangerous as they could be declared invalid. If you have no other option, please try to avoid the mistake of having a beneficiary also witness your Will. Your beneficiary could be disqualified from inheriting in terms of your Will if you have also asked them to witness your Will. You will need to find two other competent witnesses above the age of 14 years.

A Will without a date is not necessarily invalid, but a date makes it easier to interpret your wishes if you have more than one Will. Remember that a new Will does not necessarily revoke previous Will/s. Wills are read in conjunction with one another as far as possible, unless you explicitly state ‘this Will revokes all previous Wills …”

5. Save money by choosing Legal Hero for Ante-Nuptial Agreements, Child Maintenance Applications, Opposed and Unopposed Divorce, drawing up of a valid Will and many more. 
We cannot protect you from heartbreak, but we can help ensure that your legal transition from partnered to single is as smooth as possible.

By choosing Legal Hero you will pay a fixed and affordable monthly premium that offers cover against future legal heartaches of up to R200 000 per annum. Legal advice, out of Court settlement and our contract benefit services are handled in-house whilst litigation matters are referred to our national panel of trusted attorneys.

Legal Hero is an authorized financial services provider as underwritten by Guardrisk Insurance Company Limited. Terms and conditions apply. Mail join@legalhero.co.za or call us on 0861 22 99 22 (select option 1).