Understanding Marriages Subject to Accrual: A Guide for Everyone
Marriage is a significant milestone in one’s life, and understanding the legal aspects that govern it is crucial. One type of marriage arrangement is known as a marriage subject to accrual. In this article, we will explore the concept of marriages subject to accrual, highlighting its legal implications and how it affects the distribution of assets.
Marriage Out of Community of Property and Profit/Loss:
A marriage subject to the accrual system is a specific type of marriage arrangement governed by the Matrimonial Property Act 88 of 1984. It differs from the traditional community of property and profit/loss arrangements. Under the accrual system, each spouse maintains ownership and control over their individual estates. This means that neither spouse has any rights or claims to the assets owned by the other spouse during the marriage [Reeder v Softline Ltd & Another 2001 (2) SA 844 (W)].
Asset Distribution on Dissolution:
Upon the dissolution of a marriage subject to accrual, either through a divorce or the death of one or both spouses, the Matrimonial Property Act outlines the rules regarding the distribution of assets. Section 3(1) of the Act explicitly states that:
“At the dissolution of a marriage subject to the accrual system, by divorce or by the death of one or both of the spouses, the spouse whose estate shows no accrual or a smaller accrual than the estate of the other spouse, or his estate if he is deceased, acquires a claim against the other spouse or his estate for an amount equal to half of the difference between the accrual of the respective estates of the spouses.”
In simple terms, this means that the spouse whose estate has not grown or has shown a smaller growth compared to the other spouse’s estate is entitled to a monetary claim against the other spouse’s estate. This claim amounts to half of the difference between the respective accruals of the spouses. However, it’s important to note that this claim only arises upon the dissolution of the marriage, and during the marriage, spouses do not have the right to claim each other’s assets.
Accrual and Sharing of Estates:
While the accrual claim only arises when the marriage is dissolved, the right to share in the accrual of each other’s estates begins when the spouses enter into the marriage. Throughout the marriage, both spouses have a legal right to share in the growth of each other’s estates. This means that if one spouse’s estate grows significantly more than the other’s, there will be a potential accrual claim when the marriage ends.
Understanding the concept of marriages subject to accrual is vital for individuals entering into such arrangements. This legal framework allows spouses to maintain their individual estates while still benefiting from the growth in each other’s assets during the marriage. Upon dissolution, the spouse with a smaller or no accrual has a monetary claim against the other spouse’s estate. By grasping the implications of this system, individuals can make informed decisions and ensure a fair distribution of assets in the event of divorce or the passing of a spouse.