Types Of Marriages In South Africa That Can Be Registered

South African law recognises three different marriage regimes: Civil Marriages, Civil Unions and Customary Marriages. The Department of Home Affairs manages the registration of these marriages.

What is Considered A Civil Marriage?

Civil marriages are the most common type of marriage in South Africa. Only heterosexual couples can enter into a civil marriage regime.

In South Africa, 3 different civil marriage regimes can be registered:

  • Marriage In Community of Property;
  • Marriage Out of Community of Property subject to the Accrual System; or
  • Marriage Out of Community of Property with the Accrual System’s Exclusion.

It is vital to fully understand each regime’s legal, financial and tax consequences to make an informed decision. If you get married without concluding an antenuptial contract, it automatically means that you are married in community of property.

 What is Considered A Civil Union?

The Civil Union Act, 2006 (Act No. 17 of 2006) is an act of the Parliament of South Africa that legalised same-sex marriages. It allows two people, regardless of gender, to form either a civil union or a civil partnership. Couples opting for a civil union marriage regime enjoys the same rights, responsibilities and legal consequences as those in a civil marriage. Civil unions often referred to as same-sex unions, can, in fact, be entered into by opposite-sex couples as well.

What is Considered A Customary Marriage?

Customary law in South Africa governs the laws relating to customary marriages (also referred to as traditional marriages). At its core, it is popular for regulating the indigenous African customary laws that are concluded in terms of customary marriages, unions and lobola.

The requirements for a valid customary marriage stipulates that:

  • lobola must be fixed;
  • marriages must be negotiated, celebrated and concluded in relation to customary law;
  • couples must be consenting adults (over the age of 18 years);
  • the parties must be competent to marry each other, meaning that they must not be blood relatives;
  • both the parties must agree to be married under customary law;
  • neither of the parties should already be in a civil marriage.

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of marriages in South Africa is of utmost importance before deciding to get married and /or register your marriage. For more information on marriage contracts and antenuptial contracts, contact our experienced team of antenuptial contract lawyers to book a consult.