When Sindi, 27, moved in with her boyfriend
she believed she had some rights until they broke up and she found out she
had no claim to her boyfriend's estate even
though she had been contributing to the household expenditure.
This is because their "common law" relationship wasn't
recognised by law.
Living together may seem like an attractive
prospect but legally it can be
a nightmare because your relationship
is not recognised by law.
While you can
both buy and register property or any assets
together, you do not share the same
rights as married couples no matter how
long you've been together. Even though
your estates may be entangled you have
no legal or financial obligations to one
another should you separate or one of
But what can you do?
However, Jacqueline Ellis of Jacqueline Ellis Attorneys, explains the law does
recognise what it calls universal partnerships,
where, if you can prove you
contributed towards helping him grow
his assets, you have a claim against his
You can also recover your out-of-pocket
expenses. "The courts don't like
universal partnerships, but it doesn't mean
that you can't get anything. It's just very
expensive because it is an application to
the high court," she explains.
Experts strongly suggest
drawing up a cohabitation agreement
before couples live together. This legal
document governs how assets and debts
are managed during and after the relationship.
And similar to a couple married
out of community of property, says Ellis,
cohabiting couples must make sure that if
they want ownership of particular assets;
they register them in their own names,
even if they are gifts.
Have you been left with nothing after moving in with your partner? Tell us about it in the comment box below.