Customary Marriages in SA – governing Laws

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customary marriages

customary marriages


Through the recognition of Customary Marriages Act, South Africans in customary or traditional marriages were finally given the same protections as those enjoyed by people in civil marriages. This Act came into effect in November 2000.



Read more:  The Act recognises all customary marriages that were concluded before the year 2000 and provides a set of requirements for customary marriages concluded after the year 2000.

According to section 3 of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, customary marriages are recognised if:


customary marriages


The parties are both older than 18


Both parties agreed to be married under customary law


The marriage was negotiated and celebrated following the rules set out under customary law



The Act automatically sees all people in customary marriage as married in community of property. This means that both parties share all properties, money, and debts equally.  A Customary marriage must be registered with the Department of Home Affairs. Parties who do not wish to be married in community of property must enter into an ante nuptial contract before the marriage is concluded.

Therefore, the law around marriages in community of property and out of community of property applies to traditional marriages as well.


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Matrimonial Property Act 88 of 1984

Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998

Civil Union Act 17 of 2006


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