Why would you need a cohabitation agreement? Though we hate to think “worst case scenario”, it’s important to consider the consequences of a potential breakup.

What would happen if the relationship you’ve built for more than 5 years suddenly fails?

If you live together and have shared expenses, have bought expensive assets together, and enjoy a “common law spouse” arrangement with your cohabitating partner, it’s important to protect yourself legally.

While love is a wonderful thing, if things happen to go south you best have your affairs in order.

According to MoneyWeb, under South African law, a cohabitation arrangement is not recognised as a legal relationship. No legal status is convened on couples who choose to live together without getting married.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

What does that mean for you?

It means that there are no laws to govern how things should be done if you break up. This includes how property is shared and how minors will be dealt with once the relationship has dissolved.

All4Women spoke with Natasha Truyens, a Family Law Attorney at Barnard Incorporated Attorneys, to give us some insight on cohabitation rights.

She says “Cohabitation agreements are often likened to ante-nuptial marriage contracts. This is because they are ordinarily used to protect the interests – and clarify the expectations – of a couple that is entering into a long-term relationship.”

The purpose for a cohabitation agreement, says Truyens, is to address aspects like financial interests, living expenses, property ownership and children while you are together, and in the event of the relationship break-up or dispute.

6 Month Rule myth

“We’ve had cases where partners in a long-term relationship were told about a ‘6-month rule’ that says that living together for an extended period translates to some sort of common law marriage,” says Truyens.

“Unfortunately, South Africa’s laws do not recognise such an arrangement. As a result, many women are left completely defenceless in terms of property ownership, inheritance and maintenance when a relationship ends, or their partner dies without leaving any Last Will and Testament.”

Agreements can be made between roommates as well as romantic partners

According to Truyens, cohabitation agreements are also not exclusively available to partners who are involved in a romantic relationship. Room or flat mates for instance could also opt to enter into such an agreement.

“Every relationship and living arrangement is particular in nature. In the same way that an engaged couple would seek the assistance of a family law expert to draw up their ante-nuptial agreement, it is a good idea to consult an Attorney to draw up a bespoke Cohabitation contract that takes into account your unique financial, property, living and family situation,” says Truyens.

So before you start unpacking your boxes, and settling in with your bae, make sure to get the nitty-gritty out of the way.

While contracts aren’t ‘romantic’, they will ensure you and your assets are protected  if anything should happen in the future.


READ MORE in Latest News: