"In our law cohabitation does not have special legal consequences. Generally the proprietary consequences and rights flowing from a marriage are not available to unmarried couples, regardless of the length of their cohabitation" (extract from judgment below)
If you live as a couple, avoid the trap of believing the myth of the "common law marriage". It's a very persistent myth, possibly because some other countries do indeed give formal recognition to certain forms of life partnership.
But not in South Africa - there is no such thing in our law as a "common law marriage". No matter how long you have lived together, if you break up or when one of you dies, neither of you automatically has any of the rights and protections afforded to a couple in a marriage or civil union.
Apart from the personal consequences the financial downsides can be huge, and our courts are all too often faced with sad and bitter disputes which end with one of the partners destitute and homeless after decades of cohabitation.
A recent High Court case highlights the financial dangers...