As the law in South-Africa currently stands, the only way to achieve the legal rights of a married couple is to get married or enter a civil partnership. This is not changed even if you have lived together for an extended period, have children, or have bought a house together.
Without marriage or a civil partnership, you have no claim for maintenance for yourself (you do for children), no claim against any assets in the other party’s sole name and no entitlement to property or pension or medical benefits.
In an exceedingly small percentage of vases our law will recognise a so-called "universal partnership". This will involve substantial costs and civil litigation to prove the existence of and the result will by no means be guaranteed.Important Take Away!
If you cohabit rather than getting married or entering a civil partnership and do not have a cohabitation agreement, you have:
- no automatic rights to your partner’s property in the event of their death and no automatic entitlement to inherit their estate, even if you have children
- no tax reliefs or exemptions that spouses and civil partners may enjoy, including pensions