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Civil Unions / Partnerships

The Civil Union Act of 2006 introduced the concept of civil partnerships in South Africa and also legalised same-sex marriages in the Republic. South Africa was the first country on the African continent to recognise same-sex marriages.

What is a Civil Partnership?

Civil partnerships can be concluded by heterosexual couples or homosexual couples, and have the same rights, responsibilities and legal consequences as normal civil marriages.

Couples must be 18 years old and may not already be married or in another civil union.

Additionally, they are not allowed to form the partnership with a family member as governed by the law.

Solemnising a Civil Partnership

An authorised marriage officer must solemnise the partnership. All government officials (i.e. magistrates and Home Affairs officers) who are qualified as marriage officers are also mandated to solemnise civil partnerships.

Parties in a civil partnership will enjoy the same legal rights as they would have in a marriage in terms of the Marriage Act, including all of the divorce laws of the Republic.

There are however a couple of problems with the law as it stands and parliament is looking at amending the existing laws to remedy this.

Some of the issues include:

  1. It's extremely difficult for people from the gay and lesbian community to get married.
  2. Many of the government officials elect not to solemnise these marriages due to their own moral choice and cannot be forced to marry the parties under the existing legislation.
  3. If the parties are married and one of them decides to change their gender on their identity document, then the marriage will be null and void. This is a common occurrence in the gay and lesbian community and causes huge frustration.
  4. The entire process can take many years to complete.

Bailey Haynes Incorporated - Family Attorneys in Cape Town

Please feel free to contact our attorneys in Cape Town for more information on the above and for assistance with such a marriage regime and your marriage contract.

 

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Due to the nature of the relationship many regard it as equivalent to a legally recognized marriage, however this is incorrect.

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Till death do us part – the effect your marriage regime has on estate planning

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Customary Marriages and Community of Property

Since the promulgation of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 120 of 1998, the position has changed in that customary marriages are now recognised in our law. A marriage that is valid in terms of customary law and was in existence at the time of commencement of the Act, is for all purposes recognised as a marriage in terms of the Act. 

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