Which marriage contract would you consider?
Nearly half of marriages in South Africa end up in divorce. Are we bound by marriage contracts? Do we understand these marriage contracts or do we just get excited that my man popped the question and not think about the practicalities of being in a marriage. I recently had this debate with a friend of mine who has been married for 10 years.
Just few months ago, she was celebrating her 10th year wedding anniversary. That’s a milestone, at least for me. Nowadays, marriage lasts just 2 – 3 years and ends up in divorce. I’ve only been married for almost 2 years, so I’m no expert in marriage however I have a few older friends that have been married for longer and they have taught me a thing of two.
When my husband decided to marry me, I started thinking about a lot of things; mainly I was thinking to myself “I am not going to get married to get divorced.” That was just not an option. I had to make sure that we go in it prepared.
We talked about marriage contracts and which one we wanted to go for. However I knew long before what I wanted, I wanted to get married in community of property. My reasons may not be convincing to you but I believe that as a Christian and believer in Christ I wanted to go in it wholeheartedly without any reservations. I felt that any other contract for me will mean I’m planting doubts in what we wanted to build, which was marriage in Christ. Fortunately my husband felt the same.
So we did some reading on marriage contracts anyway just to get an understanding of what is out there and their implications. The following are the marriage contracts:
- In community of property – which means in terms of the marriage both parties are the owners of the joint estate. From the start of the marriage, all assets and liabilities are incorporated in a joint estate. Assets accumulated by one party prior to the marriage also become part of the joint estate owned by both parties.
- Out of community of property without accrual – which means the parties enter into antenuptial contract. The contract sets the rules and conditions in respect of the division of assets. For an example, a property owned by a person prior to the marriage, as well property accumulated during the marriage, belongs only to that person.
- Out of community of property with accrual – which means all assets prior to the marriage belongs only to that person and all assets accumulated during the marriage both parties are owners of it.
This friend of mine that has been married for 10 years now is married out of community of property without accrual. When I interrogated her on that specific contract, she informed me that both the husband and she always knew before they got married that the husband will eventually start his own business and they did not want to risk losing everything should the business not become financially stable. So this means what is hers is hers and what is his is entirely his.
This contract worked for them and last year the husband’s business was not doing well so his car was repossessed but luckily the house was under the wife’s name and it got saved. So these are the practicalities we experience as human beings.
However I believe when the holy word says “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”. I live on this verse, that we shall become one flesh, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health and till death do us apart. We have now become one. Hence I find for me “marriage in community of property” works with my value system and what I believe in.
It is important to become aware of the marriage contracts and their implications and choose the one that is appropriate to you and makes sense to you and your partner. Not all situations will be the same, depending on what you believe in.
I would love to hear your thoughts. If married, which marriage contract did you choose? If unmarried, which marriage contract would you consider and why?