Yes, it’s all about love and roses right now, but what about the STDs - especially the financial ones?
In this case, STD refers to sexually transmitted debt.
Physical STIs might give you an irritable itch - but a financial STD might see you lose your house and everything you worked for, in the unfortunate event of divorce.
Yes, most of us want the conventional “happily ever after”, but reality doesn’t always play along even though you’ve said “I do.”
If you are in a relationship that might lead to marriage, you have to take a look at the different types of marriage contracts in South Africa.
Marriage in community of property
This type of marriage normally means what is yours is ours, what is mine is ours and what is ours is ours, all jointly. This includes debt incurred while you are married - and even debt before you were married.
According to noted attorneys Vanderspuy Cape Town, “when parties are married in community of property, their individual assets and liabilities are joined together in one estate and if the marriage is dissolved through death or divorce, the surviving or divorced spouse is entitled to 50% of the joint estate - which includes assets and liabilities not acquired by that spouse”.
In effect this means:
- If one of you goes out and splurges with a credit card, both of you are liable for it. That expensive fishing rod, those fabulous shoes and the unforgettable boys/girls night on the card is 100% your responsibility to pay as well!
- Even if a debt is incurred solely in your partner’s name while you are married, the creditor (bank) can go after you for that debt as well.
- If the love of your life has debt before marriage, you will also be liable for the full debt and debt repayment to the creditor.
- When you can’t manage your debt repayments and you apply for debt review, it will have to be a joint application, even if the one spouse has little or no debt.
One of the most important things to remember about sexually transmitted debt is that being married IN community of property is the default marriage regime in SA.
So unless you have an antenuptial contract (aka a prenup) in place when getting married by a licensed marriage officer (even if it is at Home Affairs), your marriage is considered to be in community of property and all of the above applies.
The other popular types of marriage contracts in SA are:
Married out of community of property (antenuptial without accrual)
This means that, on paper, you exist as two separate financial entities. Your possessions and debts are yours - and your partner’s possessions and debts are theirs.
Should you be separated by divorce or death, you keep what you had before you were married, and anything that you acquired during your marriage.
Married out of community of property, with accrual (antenuptial with accrual)
With this, both parties maintain their separate financial identities, but everything that they earn, or the growth of their assets after marriage, is evenly divided between them. Some things like inheritances are excluded from this.
Please note, some religious marriages, like Muslim marriages, are considered to be out of community of property as they are not legally recognised.
Everyone wants the fairy tale, but we should all take the time to consult with an attorney, a financial planner and/or a debt counsellor before we take the plunge.
Nowadays, we must discuss money in a relationship. In fact, I would suggest that you ask for a copy of your significant other’s credit record before you ask to meet their parents!
Love is blind. Don’t be a victim of sexually transmitted debt. There is no ointment to cure that!
Happy Valentine’s Day!