Which Type of Marriage Contract Will You Choose?

Marriage Contracts
Article by Theo Tshanga. Posted on May 4 2016 at 4:32 am

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.

Marriage contracts

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? 

By Theo

24 Comments

  1. Me, I would go for out of community of property without accrual purely because I am in business and I never want to get my future hubby to a point where he can’t support his family because of my mess. I had made peace with that long time ago. The world we live in is real and sometimes gives us lemons and we don’t even have the blender to make lemonade.
    Whoever marries me and I marry must just know I am going nowhere shame… . We will attend life coaches, counselling and anything that will make our minds prepared for the journey of marriage.

    • Interesting insight Zan…I guess as long as you can justify your reasons and you are comfortable with your choice.

  2. i don’t think i want to get married……i just want to do the whole “life partner” thing. so many people my age are already divorcees, haaiiiii…..where does it all go wrong, when things were great pre-marriage?

    • I understand where you’re coming from. I wonder if it’s not people going in marriage for all the wrong reasons. Maybe because I already have a child with him so he must marry me or my friend is also married so should I…or rather the clock is ticking & my parents want me to get married. We will explore this in future articles.

  3. These are the sort of things that scare me when it comes to marriage. Thanks for the clarity

    • Don’t be scared Keagi. Marriage is a beautiful and loving institution created by God. Only when both parties are ready. When it comes it will feel right you will see.

  4. When I got married 8 years ago it was decided for us by our pastor. He said, I do only the in community of property contract and nothing else because today you chose to become one and you will be separated by death.
    I only learnt about the other contracts a few years later when we were struggling financially. For financial reasons the other contracts are beneficial but I am happy my pastor decided for me. We have been to hell and back together and we came out strong.

    • Wow…I’m glad I’m not alone in this. That’s what our pastor said as well when we went for marriage counselling. I still don’t regret my decision. I’m in it wholeheartedly.

  5. Hi Theo,

    Thank you for this, I just like you believe if i get marred, it means I am pledging my whole being including assets and finances thus I am doing it COP. I however had a chat to my colleagues, who are all married, they were all against in community of property, sighting financial reasons,infidelity and losing out on your pension.

    One colleague(a woman), said, when she entered her marriage she had just received a lump sum (millions) from her late dad’s estate. Her to be husband had just found his first job, lived with his parents,meaning when they got married she would inherit his burden of taking care of them financially. When they bought the house, she put in a bigger deposit, I’m lying he didn’t put anything, she bought their house, so she opted for ANC, the husband has a struggling business and she wasn’t affected when he lost his assets. Maybe ANC is not as bad as we think it is hey?

  6. Excuse my typos and grammatical errors in the last comment but I hope you get the gist!

    • Hi Manyikwana…you’re so right hey. I guess it depends on each situation. You’ve got to go in it prepared hey. Marriage has its ups & downs, but financial difficulties hould not cause divorce. I don’t think it’s all about the money. What do you think?

  7. Hi Theo, as a bride to be this kind of conversation has passed my thoughts but did not deliberate on it, now I know how important it is in understanding contracts available, having the conversation with hubby to be and deciding together…thank you

    • These are the most important decisions one has to make before you get married, with your partners support and approval of course!

  8. My sentiments too, I married in community of property too, we very new into this marriage thing (6 months) but loving every bit of and I hope it stays this way🙈🙈🙈

    Great read Theo👏👏👏

    • I’m happy that you are enjoying your marriage Queen Fifi…Marriage is a blessing and it’s there to be enjoyed. It’s God’s creation. Even if obstacles come they build both of you and you’ll come out of it stronger. You will stay happy ( the power of your tongue).

  9. The thought of getting married scares me, all these things are too much of confusion, why can’t people be married without all the other things

    • Exactly my point LiloTshiks…why can’t we genuinely get into this without any reservation. Why must we have “just in case the business does not do well, just in case I run into financial difficulties or so on” We invite things that we don’t even know they might happen. However, others may have a different view and I guess it’s okay.

  10. I would go for out of community of property without accrual,the drama that goes with marriage in community of property when the marriage ends.I know no one gets into marriage to be divorced.I compare type of marriages to a will,while a will lists what happens to your money when you die ,a marriage contract stipulates what happens if the marriage dies.I know a woman who is going on pension this year and has only worked for 10 yrs and was married to a self employed husband,the husband decided to divorce her because he wants half of the pension payout.For me this type of marriage makes business sense and my partner is on the same page with me.

    • Interesting insight indeed Vuyosi…I know some people divorce because they want to tap into partners pension or estate…To me it’s simple it means the marriage was not build on solid foundation. Why must marriage be a business transaction? What’s important though is that both you & your partner are both comfortable with your choice. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thank You so much T for this. This is indeed something to Be agreed upon prior. Hubby to be and I spoke about it a while back and we had different views. I’ve been kinda avoiding the topic, and also trying to understand his view, but still not easy.

    • Hey P, you def need to agree prior even more so that your big day is around the corner. Don’t avoid this it is an important part of your marriage. All the best!

  12. I’m married in Community Of Property, I work full time but my dear husband has his own business. before we got married, we were also worried of what happens if his business doesn’t work out or if it were to face financial crisis. but we then remembered that important verse, that we are now 1 flesh and we should only have good thoughts and not attract any bad things into our relationship and business. so, so far so good & only greater things are coming.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more nana! Same here…and all best in your marriage.

  13. Out of community of property with accrual – That is definitely fine with me. Safest option in today’s world.


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Marriage Contracts

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.

Marriage contracts

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? 

By Theo

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