In an age when most marriages fails, parties with a trail of prior relationships and marriages behind them may prefer to live together, rather than marry. Same-sex or heterosexual partners who choose not to get married should sign a domestic partnership (also called a life partnership or cohabitation) agreement to protect them should their relationship end. It is cheaper than ending up in court!
You can purchase your cohabitation agreement, online, for our inclusive fee of R1500. To proceed, click on the “Add to basket” icon below and pay the R1500 via your credit card. Once the payment is approved, the system will send you a link to insert your names, identity documents, etc. It will then generate your agreement and email it to us for approval. Once we are happy with it, we will email it to you for signature.
If you prefer to meet with us, or if you have special requirements that you will not find in a standard life partnership agreement, our inclusive will be R1938 (R1700 + VAT). This includes a meeting at our office with you and your partner where we advise you of the various options and act as a facilitator. Once you have reached an agreement, we will prepare the contract. If we have to spend more than an hour consulting and drafting, we may have to charge you more, but we will agree on the fee up-front.
• Our law does not give automatic rights to partners in a cohabitation relationship. If they had the choice of getting married and they didn’t, the law does not come to their assistance.
• Many people believe that if they live together they are in a ‘common law’ marriage and are as good as married. That is simply not the case. An aggrieved party would have to go to court to show that the parties were partners in a ‘universal partnership’ and that the one party owes something to the other. In the groundbreaking judgment heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal in March 2012, in the matter between Mncora and Butters, the parties were not married but lived together as husband and wife for almost 20 years. The court found that during their 19 years together, Mncora and Butters had formed a ‘tacit universal partnership’ entitling her to a slice of the pie when they went their separate ways:
“On all the evidence it is clear that the all-embracing venture pursued by the parties, which included both their home life and the business conducted by the defendant, was aimed at a profit; a profit which, in my view, they tacitly agreed to share. …the plaintiff had succeeded in establishing a tacit universal partnership between her and the defendant.”
• If one domestic partner dies, the other has no automatic right to inherit according to the rules of intestate succession, and when the relationship ends, parties have no automatic legal duty to share in the assets accumulated during the relationship or to maintain the other beyond the relationship. A court may direct otherwise.
• If one of the parties owns the common home, the other has to leave. Fathers of children born from domestic partnerships do not have automatic rights of access or custody, unless section 21 of the Children’s Act applies.
Go here to see what elements you should include in a life partnership agreement.
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Bregman Moodley Attorneys Inc. 2015/089214/21
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