A Duty of Support for All South African Unmarried Intimate Partners Part I

The Limits of the Cohabitation and Marriage Based Models

  • Elsje Bonthuys WITS
Keywords: African women, duty of support, maintenance, unmarried opposite sex partners, cohabitation, Muslim marriage, customary law

Abstract

The democratic Constitutional dispensation has led to the gradual extension of spousal duties of support to unmarried couples who hitherto could not legally claim support from their partners or from third parties who had unlawfully caused the death of their partners. The new recipients of rights to support can be divided into three groups: wives in Muslim religious marriages, partners in same-sex intimate relationships and unmarried opposite sex cohabitants whose relationships closely resemble civil marriage in both form and function. However, certain distinctive features of customary marriage, the continuing consequences of apartheid policies for African families and certain distinctive patrilineal features of traditional African families have largely excluded African women – who constitute the largest and most economically vulnerable group of women – from the benefits of these developments. Part one of this two-part article analyses the trajectory of the developing right to support intimate partnerships which appears to be based either on marriage (in the case of Muslim marriages) or similarity to marriage, including monogamy and permanent co-residence in the case of same-sex and opposite sex partners. This leaves no room to extend rights to unmarried intimate partners whose relationships do not fit the template of civil marriage, and, in particular, excludes many disadvantaged African women from obtaining legal rights to support from their relationships.

References

Literature

Albertyn 2007 SAJHR
Albertyn C "Substantive Equality and Transformation in South Africa" 2007 SAJHR 253-276

Amaoteng and Heaton 2015 SARS
Amaoteng AY and HeatonTB "Changing Race Differences in Family Structure and Household Composition in South Africa" 2015 SARS 59-79

Bennett Customary Law
Bennett TW Customary Law in South Africa (Juta Cape Town 2004)

Bonthuys 2007 SAJHR
Bonthuys E "Race and Gender in the Civil Union Act" 2007 SAJHR 526-542

Bonthuys and Pieterse 2000 THRHR
Bonthuys E and Pieterse M "Still Unclear: The Validity of Certain Customary Marriages in Terms of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act" 2000 THRHR 616-625

Budlender et al Women, Land and Customary Law
Budlender D et al Women, Land and Customary Law (Community Agency for Social Enquiry Johannesburg 2011)

Clark and Van Zyl Handbook
Clark B and Van Zyl L Handbook of the South African Law of Maintenance (LexisNexis Durban 2016)

De Souza 2013 Acta Juridica
De Souza M "When Non-registration Becomes Non-recognition: Examining the Law and Practice of Customary Marriage Registration in South Africa" 2013 Acta Juridica 239-272

De Vos 2004 SAJHR
De Vos P "Same-sex Sexual Desire and the Re-imagining of the South African Family" 2004 SAJHR 179-206

De Vos 2007 SAJHR
De Vos P "The 'Inevitability' of Same Sex Marriage in South Africa's Post-Apartheid State" 2007 SAJHR 432-465

Goldblatt 2003 SALJ
Goldblatt B "Regulating Domestic Partnerships – A Necessary Step in the Development of South African Family Law" 2003 SALJ 610-629

Heaton and Kruger South African Family Law
Heaton J and Kruger H South African Family Law 4th ed (Juta Cape Town 2015)

Himonga "Dissolution of a Customary Marriage"
Himonga, C "The Dissolution of a Customary Marriage by Divorce" in Heaton J (ed) The Law of Divorce and Dissolution of Life Partnerships in South Africa (Juta Cape Town 2014) 231-275

Himonga and Moore Reform of Customary Marriage
Himonga C and Moore E Reform of Customary Marriage, Divorce and Succession in South Africa (Juta Cape Town 2015)

Himonga and Pope 2013 Acta Juridica
Himonga C and Pope A "Mayelane v Ngwenyama and Minister of Home Affairs: A Reflection on Wider Implications" 2013 Acta Juridica 318-338

Hosegood 2013 Acta Juridica
Hosegood V "Women, Marriage and Domestic Arrangements in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa" 2013 Acta Juridica 143-168

Hosegood, McGrath and Moultrie 2009 Demographic Research
Hosegood V, McGrath N and Moultrie T "Dispensing with Marriage: Marital and Partnership Trends in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 2000-2006" 2009 Demographic Research 279-312

Kovacs, Ndashe and Williams 2013 Acta Juridica
Kovacs RJ, Ndashe S and Williams J "Twelve Years Later: How the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act of 1998 is Failing Women in South Africa" 2013 Acta Juridica 273-291

Kruuse 2009 SAJHR
Kruuse H "'Here's to You, Mrs Robinson:' Peculiarities and Paragraph 29 in Determining the Treatment of Domestic Partnerships" 2009 SAJHR 380-391

Lind 2005 Acta Juridica
Lind C "Domestic Partnerships and Marital Status Discrimination" 2005 Acta Juridica 108-130

Makiwane et al Families in Mpumalanga
Makiwane M et al A Baseline Study on Families in Mpumalanga (Human Sciences Research Council Pretoria 2012)

Mwambene and Kruuse 2013 Acta Juridica
Mwambene L and Kruuse H "Form over Function? The Practical Application of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 1998 in South Africa" 2013 Acta Juridica 292-317

Posel 2006 History Workshop Journal
Posel D "Marriage at the Drop of a Hat: Housing and Partnership in South Africa's Urban African Townships, 1920s-1960s" 2006 History Workshop Journal 57-76

Posel and Rudwick 2013 Acta Juridica
Posel D and Rudwick S "Changing Patterns of Marriage and Cohabitation in South Africa" 2013 Acta Juridica 169-180

Russell 2003 Social Dynamics
Russell M "Understanding Black Households: The Problem" 2003 Social Dynamics 5-47

Schäfer 2006 SALJ
Schäfer L "Marriage and Marriage-Like Relationships: Constructing a New Hierarchy of Life Partnerships" 2006 SALJ 626-647

Smith "Dissolution of a Life Partnership"
Smith B "The Dissolution of a Life or Domestic Partnership" in Heaton J (ed) The Law of Divorce and Dissolution of Life Partnerships in South Africa (Juta Cape Town 2014) 389-475

Smith 2010 PELJ
Smith B "Rethinking Volks v Robinson: The Implications of Applying a 'Contextualised Choice Model' to Prospective South African Domestic Partnerships Legislation" 2010 PELJ 238-300

Smith 2011 SALJ
Smith B "The Interplay between Registered and Unregistered Domestic Partnerships under the Draft Domestic Partnerships Bill, 2008 and the Potential Role of the Putative Marriage Doctrine" 2011 SALJ 560-593

Smith and Heaton 2012 THRHR
Smith B and Heaton J "Extension of the Dependant's Action to Heterosexual Life Partnerships after Volks v Robinson and the Coming into Operation of the Civil Union Act –Thus Far and No Further?" 2012 THRHR 472-484

Stats SA Community Survey 2016
Statistics South Africa Community Survey 2016 (Statistics South Africa Pretoria 2016)

Stats SA Income Dynamics
Statistics South Africa Census 2011: Income Dynamics and Poverty Status of Households in South Africa (Statistics South Africa Pretoria 2015)

Stats SA Marriages and Divorces 2015
Statistics South Africa Marriages and Divorces 2015 (Statistics South Africa Pretoria 2017)

Stats SA Vulnerable Groups
Statistics South Africa Vulnerable Groups Indicator Report 2016 (Statistics South Africa Pretoria 2017)

Yarbrough 2015 SARS
Yarbrough MW "South African Marriage in Policy and Practice: A Dynamic Story" 2015 SARS 5-23

Case law

AM v RM 2010 2 SA 223 (ECP)
Amod v Multilateral Motor Vehicle Accidents Fund 1999 4 SA 1319 (SCA)
Benefeld v West 2011 2 SA 379 (GSJ)
Braude v Braude (1899) 16 SC 565
Chadwick v Chadwick 1914 CPD 1008
Claassen v Van der Watt 1969 3 SA 68 (T)
Daniels v Campbell 2004 5 SA 331 (CC)
Du Plessis v Road Accident Fund 2004 1 SA 359 (SCA)
EH v SH 2012 4 SA 164 (SCA)
Fanti v Boto 2008 5 SA 405 (C)
Finlay v Kutoane 1993 4 SA 675 (W)
Friedman v Harris 1928 CPD 43
G v F 1966 3 SA 579 (O)
Gory v Kolver 2007 4 SA 97 (CC)
Hassam v Jacobs 2009 5 SA 572 (CC)
Hoosein v Dangor 2010 2 All SA 55 (WCC)
Ismail v Ismail 1983 1 SA 1006 (A)
Karp v Kuhn 1948 4 SA 825 (T)
Khan v Khan 2005 2 SA 272 (T)
Langemaat v Minister of Safety and Security 1998 3 SA 312 (T)
Laubscher v Duplan 2017 2 SA 264 (CC)
Lloyd v Mitchell 2004 2 All SA 542 (C)
Mabena v Letsoalo 1998 2 SA 1068 (T)
Martens v Martens 1952 3 SA 771 (W)
Maseko v Maseko 1992 3 SA 190 (W)
Mayeki v Shield Insurance 1975 4 SA 370 (C)
McDonald v Young 2012 3 SA 1 (SCA)
Meyer v Road Accident Fund (TPD) (unreported) case number 29950/2004 of 28 March 2006
MM v MN 2013 4 SA 415 (CC)
Motsoatsoa v Roro 2011 2 All SA 324 (GSJ)
Paixao v Road Accident Fund 2011 ZAGPJHC 68 (1 July 2011)
Paixão v Road Accident Fund 2012 6 SA 377 (SCA)
Pietzsch v Thompson 1972 4 SA 122 (R)
Richards v Guardian Assurance 1907 TH 24
Robinson v Volks 2004 6 SA 288 (C)
Rose v Rose 2015 2 All SA 352 (WCC)
Ryland v Edros 1997 2 SA 690 (C)
SANTAM v Fondo 1960 2 SA 467 (A)
Satchwell v President of the Republic of South Africa 2002 6 SA 1 (CC)
Staples v Marquard 1919 CPD 181
Thembesile v Thembesile 2002 2 SA 209 (T)
TM v ZJ 2016 1 SA 71 (KZD)
Verheem v Road Accident Fund 2010 2 SA 409 (GP)
Volks v Robinson 2005 5 BCLR 446 (CC)
Wormald v Kambule 2006 3 SA 562 (SCA)

Legislation
Black Laws Amendment Act 76 of 1963
Civil Union Act 17 of 2006
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 200 of 1993
Divorce Act 70 of 1979
Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987
Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act 27 of 1990
Marriage Act 25 of 1961
Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998
Government publications
Draft Domestic Partnerships Bill (Gen N 36 in GG 30663 14 January 2008)
Views
  • Abstract 0
  • pdf 0
  • XML 0
Views and downloads are with effect from 11 January 2018
Published
2018-10-30
Section
Articles