Chris Fick & Associates

A4blWhen last did you fill in a form that didn`t ask you your marital status? It is important for most contracts that you disclose the property system governing your joint finances and mutual fiscal responsibility. Likewise, it is crucial for the people checking the forms, or making decisions based on your answers, to understand the terminology. Despite most people being aware of the different systems (marriage, civil union or life partnership), some of the specifics of these systems, especially civil unions, remain overlooked.

Parties to a same-sex marriage in terms of the Civil Union Act have the choice to describe their union as a “marriage” or a “civil partnership”. Their choice is recorded by the marriage officer on the marriage certificate of the parties and also in the Antenuptial Contract, if they choose to enter into such a contract prior to their marriage.

The choice to describe their union as a “marriage” or a “civil partnership” also has application in how they are described in the title deed of their property.  Partners who choose to describe their union as a “marriage” will be described in the title deed precisely the same as the parties in heterosexual unions. But if the partners choose “civil partnership” they will be described differently namely as “partners in a civil partnership in/out of community of property registered in terms of the Civil Union Act 17 of 2006”.

CRC 1/2007 (para 5.3.2) and the Deeds Practice Manual (page 1-130) specifically deals with the various descriptions.

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This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.