SA Law Does Not Recognise 'Cohabitation': Attorney

Cohabitation is theoretically known as an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in a intimate relationship on a long-term or permanent basis.

Are there rules when it comes to cohabitation? Should there be rules? Who gets what when people split up?

Could there be hard financial lessons for those who choose to live together without being married and without a written contract?

Attorney at the Women’s Legal Centre in Cape Town, Sonja Bornman, says from a legal perspective in South Africa the law does not recognise cohabitation relationships.

“So, there is no such thing in our law such as a ‘vat en sit’ or a common law marriage.”

Bornman says, “Lots of people are under the mistaken impression that if you have lived with someone for an extended period of time that relationship automatically becomes recognised, and this is not correct, there is no such thing in our law.”

Bornman adds: “If two people have been living together and they have chosen not to get married or chosen not to govern their relationship with some sort of a contract then they will both walkout with exactly what they brought in.”