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Destination Weddings And The Matrimonial Property System

When looking for information on what to do for a destination wedding, the items listed above are some of the things which have to be ticked off, however it’s very seldom that the legal side of the wedding is mentioned. Some of the information above does refer to important factors such as:

  • checking what are the requirements of the destination country in order for the marriage to be official;

  • having all arrangements in writing (wedding planner, venue hire, marriage officer and all other vendors) and carefully reviewing the contract before signing and committing.

However, the most important part of your preparations for your wedding and which will affect the rest of your married lives is the Antenuptial Contract. You’re getting married outside of South Africa, so which matrimonial property system will apply?

It is important to remember that the matrimonial property system of the destination wedding country will not usually apply unless your intention is to live there permanently. The law which governs a marriage is the law of the country where the husband is domiciled at the time of the marriage and not where the marriage takes place. The husband’s country of domicile is the country which he considers to be his permanent home and where he intends to settle for an indefinite period. So, if the husband is living and working in South Africa and the couple travels to another country for the sole purpose of getting married and having a holiday, then the country of domicile is South Africa and the matrimonial property laws of South Africa will apply to the marriage. In this case, if no contract is signed prior to the marriage, then the applicable matrimonial property system is IN of Community of Property which is the default matrimonial property system in South Africa.

If your intention is to be married OUT of Community of Property, then you must sign an Antenuptial Contract before leaving South Africa to get married as you will not be able to do so after the marriage when you return. If you intend to emigrate to (for example) Botswana where the default matrimonial property system is OUT of Community of Property and you plan to settle there permanently sometime after the wedding, it is advisable to sign an Antenuptial Contract before leaving South Africa to get married, in order to avoid doubt later on.

So, if you don’t want to be married IN Community of Property, sign an Antenuptial Contract before you leave South Africa for your amazing destination wedding.

For further information or assistance with Antenuptial Contracts or any matrimonial property aspects, please contact Myers Attorneys on 011 346 2422 or

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