Postnuptial Contracts: How to change your Marital Regime

Postnuptial Contracts: Changing Your Marital Regime in South Africa

Are you considering changing your marital regime in South Africa? Whether you're looking to alter your financial dynamics or secure your assets differently, understanding the process is crucial.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to change your marital regime, including the necessary steps, legal requirements, and benefits.

How to Change Your Marital Regime

To change your marital status, you need to apply to the High Court and sign a Notarial Contract. This contract, acting as a postnuptial agreement, will establish your new matrimonial property system.

Types of Marital Regimes in South Africa

South Africa recognizes three main types of marital regimes:

  1. In Community of Property
  2. Out of Community of Property with Accrual System
  3. Out of Community of Property without Accrual System

Understanding each regime can help you determine the best fit for your needs.

In Community of Property

Under this regime, both spouses share equal rights and responsibilities over all assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. This means all property and debt are jointly owned, regardless of who originally acquired them.

For more insights, explore the advantages and disadvantages of marriage in community of property.

Out of Community of Property with Accrual System

In this arrangement, each spouse retains ownership of their assets and liabilities acquired before and during the marriage. However, any increase in the value of each spouse's estate during the marriage is shared equally upon dissolution.

Learn more about the accrual system and how to calculate it in our detailed guide.

Out of Community of Property without Accrual System

This regime operates similarly to the accrual system, but without sharing the accrual upon marriage dissolution. Each spouse maintains full control over their separate estates.

Find out more about marriage out of community of property without accrual.

Default Regime: Marriage in Community of Property

If you did not sign an antenuptial contract before marriage in South Africa, your marriage defaults to in community of property. Many couples later realize the implications of this regime and seek to change it post-marriage.

Changing Your Matrimonial Property Regime

To change from in community of property to out of community of property, you must apply to the High Court and get authorization under Section 21(1) of the Matrimonial Property Act.

Steps to Change Your Marital Regime

The Matrimonial Property Act, Section 21(1)

This law allows spouses to change their matrimonial property system if a judge approves, ensuring creditors are notified and no harm comes to any party. Spouses can then sign a notarial contract to govern their future property system.

Explore more about Section 21(1) of the Matrimonial Property Act.

Procedure for Changing Your Matrimonial System

  1. File a High Court Application
    Submit an application to the High Court detailing the desired change.
  2. Prepare Necessary Documentation
    Gather documents such as identification, marriage certificates, proof of address, and reasons for the change.
  3. High Court Evaluation
    The Court will review your application and decide on approval.
  4. Sign and Register the Notarial Contract
    Upon approval, you must sign and notarize the contract within three months.

Reasons to Change Your Marital Status

Couples may seek to change their marital regime for various reasons, such as the absence of a pre-wedding antenuptial contract or evolving business interests.

Timeline for Changing Marital Regimes

The process, including the High Court application and notarial contract preparation, typically takes 2 to 3 months. This can vary based on the Court's schedule and potential delays.

What to Expect After High Court Approval

Once the Court approves, you must complete the registration and notarization of the postnuptial contract within the stipulated three-month period.

Costs Involved in Changing Your Marital Status

Changing your marital regime involves costs similar to drafting an antenuptial agreement, plus additional legal expenses for the High Court application and notification processes.

Factors Influencing Cost and Complexity

The complexity and cost can increase if there are multiple creditors or assets. Proper preparation and disclosure of all relevant information to your legal team can help mitigate complications.

Documentation Required

To facilitate the process, you will need:

  • Copies of identification documents or passports
  • Marriage certificate
  • Proof of address
  • Income tax numbers (if applicable)
  • Employment details


Changing your marital regime in South Africa requires a legal process involving a High Court application and the signing and registering of a Notarial Contract.

Meeting specific criteria, such as notifying creditors and demonstrating no prejudice to others, is essential for approval.

Ready to take the next step? Consult with a legal expert to navigate the process smoothly and ensure all requirements are met.

By understanding and following these steps, you can successfully change your marital regime, aligning it with your current and future financial goals.