FEW moments are as exciting as walking down the aisle. However, when getting married, brides and grooms think about everything else except the implications of their changing marital status, which is one of the most important conversations to have. Metropolitan’s Cebisa Mfenyana explains, “You gain a spouse, as well as an extended family. It impacts on your life decisions, from your insurance policies to your finances.” Move! gives you some tips on what to consider when you get married.

CUSTOMARY MARRIAGE

Customary marriages should be registered within three months at Home Affairs or through a reputable and registered traditional leader. “While a customary marriage is still recognised as valid under South African law, registering your marriage is required by the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (RCMA),” says Cebisa. “Registering your marriage means that you will get issued with a marriage certificate, which will make it much easier for you to prove that you are or were married.”    

PROOF OF MARRIAGE

Registering your marriage and obtaining a marriage certificate protects you in the following ways: 

¯ It serves as proof of marriage if you need to claim death benefits from your spouse’s workplace. 

¯ It makes it easier for a woman to enforce her property rights if her husband marries more wives. 

¯ It makes it easier to obtain maintenance for children and to help the court protect the interests of dependent children in the case of a divorce.

Move Tip: South Africa recognises marriages under customary law, civil law and in terms of a culture or religion. There are special requirements that the spouses of each type of marriage must comply with for the marriage to be valid. 

GET INSURED 

Cebisa believes that the right insurance cover is important. “If you’re buying a home with your new spouse you will need life cover because of the bond you will take out. Life cover also ensures that your financial responsibilities are taken care of should you or your spouse be unable to work due to illness or in the event of death," explains Cebisa. She adds, “Have open discussions about your health and ensure that you get covered for critical illness, especially if your family has a medical history of diabetes, hypertension, heart problems or strokes.” Cebisa says it is important to remember that marriage involves his and your family, and suggests getting funeral cover for them.

START SAVING NOW  

Money is one of the biggest reasons couples get divorced. This is why Cebisa suggests being open about your dreams and goals, like buying a car or a house, having children and saving for their education. “Have short-term and long-term goals that you save for and find the best saving or investment vehicle to help you realise your goals. That’s how many successful married couples have done it and have been able to achieve success,” she says.

CHANGE YOUR SURNAME

There is a lot of admin after tying the knot but it is worth investing time into doing it because should something happen to you or your spouse, there may be implications which are costly to resolve. Cebisa advises that if you have existing policies, you should inform your insurer of your new marital status and include your new spouse as a beneficiary or dependent. “When in doubt on any of these issues – or if you need advice on life cover and your savings plan as a couple – speak to your financial advisor.”