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South African law does not specifically provide for a Legal Separation for married couples. In the eyes of the Law, parties are either married or divorced. There is no in-between status.

While there is no specific concept of Legal Separation, it does not mean that a married couple cannot live apart. However, it does mean that until a Court pronounces them divorced, they are still deemed to be married.

For married couples who elect to live apart (whether for a short period of time or for an indefinite period of time) it is advisable for them to draw up a Separation Agreement to deal with their financial issues.

The areas that a Separation Agreement would deal with could include among other things:

·         Spousal Maintenance

·         Child Maintenance

·         Medical Aid

·         School Fees

·         Debt

·         Payment of the Home Expenses

In addition to the Separation Agreement, the Separating Couple may also need to enter into a Parenting Plan. The Parenting Plan would include issues such as:

·         The children’s residence

·         Each parent’s contact time with the children

On signing the Separation Agreement, the document would become valid and binding on the Separating Couple. The document would also as a consequence, be enforceable in terms of the Law of Contract. The effect of this being that a Spouse could approach the Court for assistance in respect of the other Spouse’s breach.

In a nutshell, while South African Law does not recognise the status of Legal Separation, it would recognise the Separation Agreement and give force to it.

For direct answers to your specific personal questions, please contact us directly.

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Author – Jessica Gooding

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