In South African law, cohabitation is not a legally recognised relationship. Despite the common misconception that cohabiting for a certain period leads to a "common-law marriage," no legal concept or implication is associated with this idea. Although cohabiting partners have some rights and recourse, enforcing them can be difficult due to the lack of legislation or case law specifically addressing cohabitation relationships.
Several issues may arise from cohabitation, including questions about property rights, estate inheritance, maintenance claims, and applicable ancillary legislation. Due to the limited statutory regulation of cohabitation, alternative mechanisms have been implemented to address some of these issues. This underscores the challenges those in cohabitation relationships face in South African law.