For some people, it is their dream to get married. For others, they could not stay further away. Still others might be undecided, not entirely convinced that marriage is a good fit for them. Wherever you might be placed on this spectrum of attitudes towards marriage, it is important to be informed. Marriage has very many legal implications. And with these legal implications, many legal benefits are attached. The law has recognized marriage in such a way that it provides people who are married with certain benefits that other people in other (non-marital) relationships do not enjoy. In this blog post, we want to outline some of the legal advantages of marriage for you. If you are unmarried, knowing these legal benefits could help you make your decision regarding getting married.
Please note, this blog post is not specifically about the respective advantages and disadvantages of the marital property regimes of “in community of property” and “out of community of property”. We have written a post comparing these regimes and you can read that here.
What follows are some of the legal advantages of marriage (regardless of the property regime unless specifically stated).
Legal advantages of marriage: Duty of support
When you are married, you and your spouse have a corresponding legal duty to support each other. What the support actually looks like depends on circumstances such as your standard of living. Crucially, it depends on your respective means and needs. So if you lose your job and cannot contribute to the household, your spouse legally must support you within his or her means and according to your needs.
Legal advantages of marriage: Savings on tax
Consider buying a home. You and your life partner (not married) decide to go in together to buy a home. You want to become joint owners, but one of you provides the large majority of the capital for the purchase. This could potentially trigger an event where one of you is liable to pay donations tax on your amount paid. Donations tax is payable if you donate a cumulative amount above the defined threshold to anyone other than your spouse over the course of a tax year. The tax rate for donation tax is 20%. What is more, in the event of your partner passing away, you could face estate duty (at 20%) and capital gains tax on that property. The taxes can add up.
If you are married, donations tax is not payable between spouses. Also, on one spouse’s death, estate duty is not payable on any assets left to the surviving spouse. Lastly, if you are married, capital gains tax is not payable until the second spouse passes away. So if you are married, in circumstances like these you will save on taxes.
Legal advantages of marriage: Maintenance after death
When you or your spouse pass away, whoever survives has a legal right to claim maintenance from the deceased spouse’s estate. This maintenance provides the surviving spouse with an extra layer of financial support that can be very necessary around those times. We have written a blog post that covers this point in more detail, you can read that here.
Legal advantages of marriage: Inheritance
In the event that your spouse dies without a will, the law protects you as the surviving spouse. In these circumstances, the law states that the surviving spouse still inherits. Being married gives you the legal right to inherit even if there is no will and no specific instruction left from your deceased spouse that you should inherit.
Legal advantages of marriage: Property division on divorce
When spouses end their relationship, each is entitled to a portion of the property (this applies to marriages in community of property and out of community of property with accrual). Depending on the marital regime, certain protections are in place so that one spouse is not left with everything while the other is left destitute.
Hopefully these legal advantages of marriage will help you make a decision if you need to make one. If you require any advice on a matter related to the legal advantages of marriage, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].