How do marriage contracts work?

How Do Marriage Contracts Work in South Africa? 🤔

Understanding the intricacies of marriage contracts in South Africa is crucial to protect your assets and avoid legal disputes in the unfortunate event of a divorce or death.

Let's delve into the different types of marriage contracts and their implications for your financial future.

What is a Marriage Contract?

A marriage contract outlines how property will be divided between spouses in the event of divorce or death.

While it primarily governs asset division upon divorce, it also influences the terms set out in your last will and testament.

Ensuring your marriage contract is meticulously drafted is essential to prevent any conflicts with your will.

Types of Marriage Contracts in South Africa

There are two main types of marriage contracts in South Africa: community of property and antenuptial agreements (often referred to as "out of community of property").

1. Marriage in Community of Property

When married in community of property, all assets owned before and during the marriage are combined into a joint estate. However, inheritances are typically excluded from this pool. This arrangement fosters a sense of partnership but can present challenges.


  • Upon divorce, shared assets are divided equally, ensuring fairness.
  • Both partners manage their assets together, promoting mutual decision-making.


  • Written consent from your spouse is needed for major transactions, such as buying or selling property.
  • All debts, both pre-marital and incurred during the marriage, are shared, making each partner responsible for the other's financial obligations.

2. Marriage Out of Community of Property (Antenuptial Agreement)

An antenuptial agreement offers two variations: with or without the accrual system.

Marriage Out of Community of Property With Accrual 📈

The accrual system is designed to protect the financially vulnerable partner, ensuring equitable asset distribution upon divorce.


  • Protection from your partner’s debts.
  • Freedom to manage and grow your assets independently.
  • Assets owned prior to the marriage remain exclusively yours.


  • Financially stronger partners must share the wealth accumulated during the marriage.
  • Financial dependency on the breadwinner may occur if one partner sacrifices their career.
Marriage Out of Community of Property Without Accrual 🚫

This option keeps each partner’s assets entirely separate, maintaining individual control over property and finances.


  • Complete independence in managing personal assets.
  • No need for spousal consent in financial matters.
  • Retention of all personal assets upon divorce.


  • Lack of financial protection for partners who sacrifice career opportunities for family responsibilities.

Choosing the Right Marriage Contract for You 💍

Selecting the appropriate marriage contract requires careful consideration of your financial goals and personal circumstances.

Consulting with a legal expert can provide valuable insights and help tailor a contract that aligns with your needs.

Understanding these marriage contract options ensures you are well-prepared to protect your assets and navigate the complexities of marital finances in South Africa.

Making an informed choice today can save you from potential legal and financial headaches in the future.