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There is a common myth that if a couple live together for a set period of time then this will create a legal position known as a “common law marriage”. Couples assume that they will have the same legal rights as married couples. However, there is no such thing as a common law marriage in South African law. Even where a couple have been living together for a lengthy period of time, this does not give them the same legal rights as those given by marriage. Unlike a divorce if couples separate there is no automatic right to a division of assets even if they have contributed equally to the expenses of the household. A valid marriage entered into will confer reciprocal spousal duties and a division of assets depending on your marital regime.

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