Can A Customary Marriage Be Valid If The Handing Over Requirement Is Not Met?

Can A Customary Marriage Be Valid If The Handing Over Requirement Is Not Met?

When diving into the intricacies of customary marriages in South Africa, a frequent query arises regarding the “handing over” provision. Is a customary union deemed invalid without this key step?

The Recognition of Customary Marriages Act outlines essential requirements for a marriage to be legally recognised. Yet, the courts emphasise the dynamic nature of customary law and living law. While the Act sees the “handing over” of the bride to the groom’s family as pivotal, recent court rulings reflect a more adaptive stance.

Many cases have challenged the validity of marriages without the “handing over” process. The courts, acknowledging the evolving nature of customs, have at times endorsed a “symbolic hand over” approach, suggesting that the traditional method isn’t always strictly necessary.

In essence, while the Act enforces specific criteria, the courts, in line with the flexibility of customary law, have ruled that missing the “handing over” step doesn’t necessarily nullify a customary marriage.

So, yes, in specific scenarios, a customary marriage in South Africa might still hold legal validity even if the traditional “handover” procedure isn’t executed.

For more insights on customary marriage norms, contact our legal team at Burger Huyser Attorneys.

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