By Lisa Masuku
Cohabiting (Umasihlalisane/ Kuchaya mapoto) is now recognised as legal marriage , the new Marriages Bill which has been approved by cabinet formally recognises civil partnerships.
An analysis of the Bill reveals that the law considers two people who are over 18 years of age who have lived together but are not legally married as a formal union.
The new Bill seeks to ‘realise justice between the parties to the relationship in terms of the Matrimonial Causes Act upon the dissolution of the relationship.’ This adequately protects women who have been treated unfairly by families because they were not legally married but lived with the man for years. In determining if such a relationship existed, the Bill considers many factors like duration of the relationship, common residence, if there was a sexual relationship, degree of financial dependency, care and support, reputation and public aspects of the relationship.”