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My partner and I are not married but we live together. What are our rights as cohabiting partners?

In South Africa, cohabitation is not a recognised legal relationship, but a couple can sign a cohabitation agreement, which has legal consequences. However, the agreement is governed by the law of contracts and, accordingly, if the terms of the contract are against public policy or contra bonos mores (against good morals), the party will not be bound by them.

Once a universal partnership has been entered into, the couple has to apply to court to dissolve the contract upon termination of the relationship.


Simon Dippenaar | SD Law Cape Town

Cape Town attorney Simon Dippenaar has a BBusSc LLB degree and Professional Diploma in Legal Practice from the University of Cape Town, and is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa. He is the founder and director of private legal practice, Simon Dippenaar & Associates, with offices in Cape Town and Gauteng representing South African and international clients.

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The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.