Marital property regimes in South Africa

marital property regime
10 Jul 2023


Marriage is not only a union of hearts but also a legal contract with significant implications. One critical aspect to consider is the choice of a marital property regime. In South Africa, there are two primary marital property regimes: marriage in community of property and of profit and loss, and marriage out of community of property. At SchoemanLaw Inc, we understand the importance of making informed decisions regarding your marital property regime. This article provides an insightful analysis of these regimes, their advantages and disadvantages, and essential considerations for couples.

1. Marriage in community of property and of profit and loss

Under this regime, all assets and liabilities of both spouses become part of a joint estate.


Simplicity: This regime offers a straightforward approach, as all assets and liabilities are shared equally between spouses.

Equality: Both partners have an equal share in the joint estate, fostering a sense of fairness.

Cost-effectiveness: No additional legal fees are incurred for creating an Ante nuptial contract.


Joint liability for debts: Both spouses are responsible for each other’s debts, even if incurred without their knowledge or consent.

Vulnerability to creditors: The joint estate can be at risk if one spouse encounters financial difficulties.

Limited autonomy: Consent from both spouses is required for financial transactions.

2. Marriage out of community of property

This regime offers greater flexibility, allowing couples to choose between two options, namely, with the application of the accrual system and without.

Out of community of property with the application of the accrual system

With this regime, spouses retain separate estates while sharing in the growth of their assets acquired during the marriage.


Financial autonomy: Each spouse maintains ownership and control over their respective estates, protecting them from the other’s financial liabilities.

Accumulation of shared wealth: Both partners benefit from the growth of their joint estate, reflecting their collective efforts during the marriage.


Complex calculations: Determining the accrual may require professional assistance due to its intricacy.

The disparity in pre-marital wealth: If one spouse enters the marriage with significantly more assets, it may create a perceived imbalance.

Out of community of property without the application of the accrual system

This regime allows spouses to maintain separate estates without sharing the growth of their assets during the marriage.


Financial independence: Each spouse retains exclusive ownership and control over their assets, free from liability for the other’s financial decisions.

Simplicity in asset division: In case of divorce, the division of assets is uncomplicated, as there is no need to calculate the accrual.


Lack of shared accumulation: This regime may result in a sense of financial separation, missing out on opportunities for shared wealth creation.

The potential disparity in circumstances: If one spouse possesses significantly more assets, it may exacerbate existing financial imbalances.

Considerations for choosing a marital property regime

When deciding on a marital property regime, it is essential to consider the following factors:

Financial compatibility and transparency: Evaluate your financial values, habits and goals to ensure compatibility and open communication.

Future wealth expectations and professional/business interests: If you anticipate substantial growth in your estate or have separate business ventures, the accrual system may be beneficial.

Disparate pre-marital estates and asset protection: If there is a significant difference in pre-marital assets or concerns about liability, opting for a community of property regime may offer protection.


Choosing a suitable marital property regime is crucial for couples. Marriage in community of property and of profit and loss promotes simplicity and equality but comes with joint liabilities. Marriage out of community of property offers options for asset protection and separate estates, with or without sharing growth. Couples should consider their financial compatibility, future plans and pre-marital assets before making an informed decision. By understanding these regimes, couples can establish a solid foundation for a prosperous and secure future together.

So, if you find yourself in this position, why not contact one of our attorneys at Schoeman Law to assist with your legal needs?

Contact an attorney at SchoemanLaw for your legal needs.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
Annelise Petzer

Annelise Petzer studied through the University of South Africa and obtained her Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB) in 2019 before completing her LEAD Practical Legal Training at UCT and commencing... Read more about Annelise Petzer


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