VAT ’n sit arrangements are common in the country, but couples can’t claim benefits after they split or if one of them dies, according to the law of cohabitation.

The law states that couples in cohabiting relationships are not recognised by South African law. Couples who’ve lived together don’t have the same rights as married couples.

It also states that a partner can’t inherit after the death of their lover, only their children.

Melusi Xulu, managing director at Donda Attorneys, said: “In cohabitation, a partner doesn’t have rights to inherit without a valid will when a cohabitant dies.

“It’s not a customary marriage. The duration they spent living together is not recognised as a legal relationship. Also, they have no obligation to maintain each other.

“But vat ’n sit couples can explore other contractual agreements such as a universal partnership. This agreement will detail their living arrangements and what happens to their assets if one of them dies or they split.”

He said the contract includes their contributions, assets and property, which assists when they separate to determine who stands to benefit.

He said most common cases they came across included partners seeking to claim Road Accident Fund as well as help with domestic violence.

“They need to legally prove they were dependent on the dead to claim for Road Accident Fund. When it comes to domestic violence, the law intervenes as it’s a criminal offence.”

  • Meanwhile, a woman who spoke to Move! magazine about how she helped her unemployed husband pay lobola for her, and how he now wants to marry someone else, has been trending on social media.

Xulu said according to customary marriage, it’s possible to return lobola, but a number of factors had to be considered, such as the number of kids they have.

And if there was a loan, written proof is needed.