In Volks v Robinson, the Constitutional Court, in 2005, found, that the consequences of marriage should not be imposed on persons or the estates of persons who were not prevented from marrying by law.
In August 2009, the Pension Fund Adjudicator found in the matter of the Eskom Pension Fund and Smith, that it was unfair to not extend a spouse’s pension benefits to permanent life partners.
To further compound the situation, the Domestic Partnership Bill published in 2008, seeks to inter alia create property claims and a duty of support for unmarried parties.
In effect, and notwithstanding the pronouncements of the Constitutional Court persons who co-habit may find themselves to be the unintended victims of pension, property and maintenance claims.
Whilst the Pension Fund Adjudicator and the legislature may be seeking to create some equity for domestic and life partners, parties should exercise a degree of caution in their relationship, especially those of a frivolous nature.