THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE ENTERING INTO A COHABITATION CONTRACT
Consider the following practical issues when entering into a cohabitation agreement:
South African banks do not allow joint accounts for cohabitants, and the partner in whose name the account is opened will be liable for any monies owed to the bank.
The Medical Schemes Act recognizes a 'partner' as a dependent.
Cohabitants are treated as spouses for tax purposes and may be named as beneficiaries in life insurance policies, but the nomination must be clear.
Decisions regarding care and contact of children are based on the best interests of the child and not on the marital status of the parents.
A domestic partner may receive pension fund benefits as a nominee, but will not be entitled to their partner's pension interest on termination of the relationship.
In the absence of a cohabitation agreement or universal partnership, private property acquired before the relationship belongs to the partner who originally acquired it, and cohabitation does not automatically give rise to property rights.
If a property is co-owned and registered in both cohabitants' names, they are joint legal owners and both liable for expenses and losses associated with the property.
If cohabitants enter into a joint lease, they are jointly liable for rent.
There is no right of intestate succession between domestic partners, even if they have lived together for a long time. The surviving partner will need to prove their contribution to the joint estate before entitlement is granted.