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Civil Marriages Before 1988

Africans married by civil marriage ceremonies before 2 December 1988 were automatically married out of community of property with no accrual and the husband had marital power in terms of the Black Administration Act (38 of 1927). So, each partner kept his or her separate property and each partner owned any property he or she got during the marriage. But the husband had the marital power, so he managed both his property and his wife’s property.

In 1988 the Marriage and Matrimonial Property Amendment Act (No 3 of 1988) changed the laws for civil marriages of Africans and made them the same as any other civil marriage. This meant that marital power was scrapped, the automatic marriage is in community of property unless couples sign an ante-nuptial contract, and out of community of property marriages have the accrual system unless couples choose not to have it.

From 1998, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (No 120 of 1998) has recognised all African customary unions as legal marriages. All new marriages formed after the Act will automatically be in community of property unless the parties draw up an ante-nuptial contract. In terms of this Act. The husband has no marital power.
(See: African Customary Marriages)

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