In Community of Property - Marriage in Community of Property Explained

Marry without entering into Antenuptial Contract. Share in assets and liabilities before and after marriage. If you do not enter into an Antenuptial Contract prior to your marriage, you will automatically be married in community of property in terms of South African Law. Both parties’ individual estates will be combined into one jointly owned estate by the marriage. This means that all per-marital assets, debt and liabilities are all pooled into one estate once the marriage is concluded, from which point onwards, only one jointly owned estate will exist. 

Both parties will be jointly liable for debt-repayment towards their combined creditors, irrespective whom incurred the debt. This means that if one of the parties behaves in a financial irresponsible way, the other party will also suffer because of it. Also the parties will be exposed to the business risks of the other party and will in practice not have freedom to trade. 'In community of property' means that everything each party had prior to the marriage, assets as well as liabilities, are pooled into one single jointly owned estate, once the parties marry. 

From this point onward everything they earn or buy will also form part of this jointly owned estate. This also pertains to any debt or liabilities either one of them incur during the marriage. Should one spouse be reckless with his or her financial affairs, it will adversely affect the other spouse, as they are both totally liable for the debts of their jointly owned estate. As both parties are joint owners of all property in their jointly owned estate, both parties have equal rights of ownership and administration over all the assets. 

Once married in community of property, there will be various transactions that require the consent of both parties. The most prejudicial consequence of marrying in community of property, is that assets in the joint estate will always be vulnerable to the claims of creditors of both spouses. This marital regime is definitely not recommended for spouses running their own independent businesses as premarital and post-marital liabilities will become communal, thereby endangering the good standing of not just one, but both spouses.

Due to the risks involved we strongly advise couples not to get married in community of property.