MAR­RIAGE AND PROP­ERTY

Buy­ing a home may be one of the big­gest fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments in your life. It is hugely im­por­tant to un­der­stand what type of mar­i­tal con­tract ap­plies to you, and your rights and obli­ga­tions as­so­ci­ated with this

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Praven Sub­bra­money, CEO of Pri­vate Bank Lend­ing at FNB, does not have good news for Mat­lou.

“The an­swer to your ques­tion would be no, be­cause the debt re­view ap­plies to the mar­riage un­der these cir­cum­stances. Un­der debt re­view, you may not en­ter into any more credit agree­ments.”

Sub­bra­money goes on to ex­plain that, be­cause of Mat­lou’s cus­tom­ary mar­riage sta­tus, the law does not al­low her to make a prop­erty pur­chase with­out her hus­band’s con­sent.

“Cus­tom­ary mar­riages are recog­nised by South African law and, fol­low­ing a Con­sti­tu­tional Court rul­ing, monog­a­mous cus­tom­ary mar­riages are con­sid­ered to be in com­mu­nity of prop­erty.

“Un­der South African law, all mar­riages – and these would in­clude cus­tom­ary, Hindu (if solem­nised by a Hindu priest who is a mar­riage of­fi­cer), Mus­lim (if solem­nised by a Mus­lim cleric who is a mar­riage of­fi­cer) and civil unions – are au­to­mat­i­cally con­sid­ered to be in com­mu­nity of prop­erty,” says Sub­bra­money.

“Sim­ply put, if the two of you do split up, the prof­its from the sale must be split down the mid­dle, even if you have paid the bulk of the costs or owned the prop­erty be­fore you got mar­ried.

“Also, if you are mar­ried in com­mu­nity of prop­erty, you can­not go out and buy a house on your own. You will al­ways need your part­ner’s con­sent,” he says.

“This means that the es­tates of each part­ner are merged into a sin­gle joint es­tate for the ex­tent of the mar­riage. If the mar­riage ends, the joint es­tate is then di­vided and dis­trib­uted equally be­tween hus­band and wife. Hus­band and wife hold equal pow­ers to ad­min­is­ter the joint es­tate and also in­cur debts that bind the joint es­tate.”

PHOTO: LU­CAS SCHIFRES / GETTY IM­AGES

NEW HOME Var­i­ous types of mar­riage con­tracts will gov­ern your rights to prop­erty own­er­ship Next week we look at af­ford­able hous­ing and how you can be­come a prop­erty owner with­out spend­ing mil­lions. If you have any ques­tions about this, or any other...

Praven Sub­bra­money, CEO of Pri­vate Bank Lend­ing at FNB

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