You’ve met the one…you’ve set the date…all you need to do now is sign the contract.
Yes, we’re talking about tying the knot.
This person means more to you than life itself. You spend hours talking on the phone, racking up the bills. Usually it’s all about your future together, the house you intend to buy, the area where you’d like to live, with the emphasis on the word ‘together’.
But your mom and dad aren’t too keen on the idea. Don’t get me wrong, they love your partner to bits, but they’re not so sure about this whole ‘together’ thing.
Turns out that in the good old days, when you said you loved each other, you meant it. That meant getting married in community of property.
Nowadays the trend is to get married the opposite way – out of community of property.
Mom and Dad were more interested in the ‘out of community of property’ option.
So, what is it about being married in community of property?
The first thing you need to know is that unless you enter into an antenuptial contract from the word go, then you’re automatically married in community of property.
Another term for community of property is community of profit and loss.
What does this mean exactly?
All the assets which you owned separately, are now lumped together into one communal Estate from the date of marriage. Each of you has a 50% claim against everything in the Estate.
You can imagine that if you’re the only one with assets, and you split everything, then you’ve lost 50% of everything you own. It turns out this was what my parents were on about.
A further potential issue is the fact that you cannot give any immovable property away without your partner’s written consent. This also applies to any investments, such as shares, which you might own.
Look, you love each other to bits, but you don’t know everything about each other. No, we’re not talking about previous boyfriends or girlfriends, we’re talking about credit history.
What if, behind that dazzling smile, is someone who has been declared insolvent? Could there be any consequences for poor old innocent you?
Yes, there can be. Remember that you now have one joint Estate. If your spouse is insolvent, then it means you’re insolvent too.
Question now is, how do you go about finding this out?
It’s a difficult one we admit. Naively speaking, if you really love this person, and you intend keeping those marriage vows (remember those “for richer or poorer” commitments you made?) then you really should get married in community of property.
But you need to be realistic as well. Who knows what could happen ten years, or even a year, from now?
What if your spouse hasn’t been entirely truthful about being insolvent? What will you then do…divorce them for lying?
There are almost only upsides to marrying out of community of property.
Imagine you intend going into business for yourself. If that business folds, and you’re married in community of property, then you lose everything.
Getting married out of community means your spouse can own assets in their own name, separate from you. If the business folds, at least the two of you won’t lose everything…
Until next time.
The Wise About Life Team