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Ante-Nuptial Contracts: In Community or Out of Community of Property

Ante-Nuptial Contracts are also known as ANC or Pre-Nup. This is a contract that is signed before marriage; ante meaning before, and nuptial meaning marriage.

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Signing or not signing an ante-nuptial contract will dictate the property regime that will govern your marriage. By property, we aren’t just talking about homes, but rather anything that a person can own. A car, house, guitar, laptop, phone, pet, and so on. So signing or not signing an ANC determines what happens to everything you each own.

In South African law, when an ante-nuptial contract isn’t signed, the default property regime is “In Community of Property”. This is true, whether you have separate bank accounts or own separate businesses or not. If you don’t want to be married in community of property, remember that you need to sign an ante-nuptial contract before you get married.

Let’s take a look at the three property regimes and how they each affect you and your spouse:

In Community of Property

Essentially, this property regime means that there is one estate co-owned between two spouses. Both spouses will be liable to one another’s debts. When we talk about an estate, we aren’t just talking about a piece of land or a house. An estate is everything that you own.

Most couples think that this is the best option, because surely divorce isn’t on your mind, so you want to own everything together. “What’s mine is yours”, right? Well, when you share everything, you share everything, including one another’s debt.

An innocent party can be affected by one spouse’s business going bankrupt. All shared assets can be seized by the court to pay creditors the money that is owed to them, even if the other spouse wasn’t involved in the business at all.

Out of Community of Property – Without Accrual

In this property regime, two people have separate estates and legally speaking, one can’t be held liable for the debts of the other.

Essentially, this is a “what’s mine is mine” situation.

Out of Community of Property – With Accrual

Although each spouse will have a separate estate, all assets acquired by the couple since the start of the marriage will be split 50/50 upon dissolution of the marriage by death or divorce.

Essentially, you will be protected from one another’s creditors, but the accrual system allows you maintain the sense of sharing.

Ante-nuptial contracts have been given a bit of a bad name, with many people assuming that signing such a contract means that you don’t have high hopes for your marriage or that you don’t trust each other. It is still possible to share everything while owning separate estates legally.

For example, I have access to all of my husband’s bank accounts and I can send myself money whenever I need to. The bank accounts belong to him legally, and should he accumulate debt, he is the one liable for that debt. Legally, the bank cannot take any of my assets in order to account for my husband’s debt. In our minds, though, the money we each earn is shared. What’s his is mine and what’s mine is his, in our hearts.

If you would like more information about Ante-Nuptial Contracts, I’d highly recommend getting in touch with my friends at Gunstons.

Planning your wedding and not sure which wedding planning decisions to make and when to make them? Wedding Planning Starter Kit demystifies wedding planning! For more information click right here

A Newlywed Checklist Of Things To Do After The Wedding

You are now married and probably really excited that you don’t have to do anymore wedding planning! No more wedding planning stress.

There are still a few things you need to do now that you are officially a Mrs, and the sooner you do them, the better. I’ve created a checklist of things to keep in mind now that you’re married, so get started.

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YOUR WEDDING DRESS

Within six months of your wedding, you should have your wedding dress dry cleaned, preferably with a company that specializes in wedding dresses. Store your dress in a box and keep it in a cool, dry place.

If you are planning on selling your dress, get it dry cleaned and then sell it as soon as you can.

YOUR NAME

Changing your surname? Do that within 90 days of getting married and make sure your marriage is registered at Home Affairs before standing in a long queue all morning.

Don’t forget to change your surname on your ID, passport, driver’s license and at the bank.

Related: Everything you need to know about changing your surname (in South Africa)

Related: How to let people know you are keeping your maiden name

THANK YOUS

Don’t forget to thank all your guests for their wedding gifts and for celebrating with you! This is something that should be done within two months of your wedding day.

Related: Wedding etiquette: Thank You notes

REGISTRY

It’s pretty normal to receive duplicates of things you put on your wedding registry, and it’s also normal to receive all the things you don’t really need, while having no towels or dinner plates. So, don’t waste time in returning things.

There may be specific returns policies at different stores, so try to do this within two months of your wedding day.

LEGAL

Remember that marriage contract and marriage certificate you signed? Get copies of each and file them away in a safe place.

How To Let People Know You Are Keeping Your Maiden Name

So, you’ve decided to keep your maiden name and now you have the task of letting everyone know that you aren’t taking your husband’s surname. Things can get a little bit awkward, particularly if you have a lot of traditional friends and family who are expecting you to become Mrs Smith, when in fact you aren’t.

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Spread the word before your wedding

If it comes up in conversation, let people know you are keeping your maiden name. Perhaps you could ask your mom, bridesmaids and other close friends and family to spread the word. They don’t have to give a reason for your decision, but they could say “Nope, she’s keeping her name!”. You could also add both of your full names to your wedding website (Jack Smith and Jill Brown) or to your wedding hash tag (#smithandbrown).

Involve your officiant and DJ

Your wedding officiant is usually the first person to announce you as a married couple. If he doesn’t get the memo, you could have him announce you as Mr and Mrs Smith and then have to do damage control. To prevent unnecessarily awkward conversations, ask your officiant to announce you as Mr Jack Smith and Mrs Jill Brown. You could have him announce you as Jack and Jill, but then you aren’t making the most of an opportunity to tell a room full of people that you are keeping your name. The same goes for your DJ or MC who will be announcing your arrival at your wedding reception.

Thank you notes

You know those post-wedding Thank You notes? They can be from Mr Jack Smith and Mrs Jill Brown. If your wedding website and officiant’s announcement didn’t give it away, a post-wedding note certainly will do the trick.

Be polite

You will inevitably have a few people get it wrong, but don’t get upset with them. Politely let them know your decision by saying something like, “Thank you so much for the monogrammed towels. I did want to let you know that I’m not taking Jack’s name, but we will definitely still be using such a generous gift”.