Living with your partner in a vat en sit arrangement may now grant you this same right as married couples

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A couple living together in their apartment
A couple living together in their apartment

The idea of cohabiting before or rather than getting married is a rather prolific one amongst young people despite mixed feelings from society about the matter.

According to an IOL.co.za report, however, the conventional vat-en-sit, or cohabiting with your partner, is now recognised by the law and partners can claim from the RAF (road accident fund) after the death of their partner. The article, written by Zelda Venter, reports that Judge Colleen Collis granted an order in favour of an unmarried woman whose partner died in a car accident. 

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"The two had lived together, although he was still married to his estranged wife at the time of the accident. The woman claimed maintenance and support from the Road Accident Fund as he had supported her financially," reports Zelda. However, when the RAF refused to pay because the couple was unmarried, Judge Collis remarked that “Cohabitation outside a formal marriage and, dare I say, even where one of the parties is still married, is now widely practised and accepted by many communities,” writes Zelda. 

According to the article, the woman, Brenda Jacobs, had been living with her partner Wesley Stevens at the time of his death in 2015 following a car crash. Zelda explains that "she said at the time of his death they had lived together for a number of years and they were engaged, even though he was not yet divorced. He moved in with her and he supported her financially while she was a stay-at-home partner."

Convinced of the relationship Brenda and Wesley had, the judge ruled in her favour because he had intended to marry her once his divorce was finalised.

"The judge said given the fact that times had changed and while some still valued the sanctity of marriage, the reality was that some people find themselves living together intending to get married, but they cannot do so due to some or another legal bar," reports Zelda. 

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Despite the ruling of this case, cohabitation itself is still not recognised as a legal relationship in South African law, despite the fact that "cohabitation has become more common over the past few years and the number of cohabitants increases by almost 100 percent each year."

The number of couples who choose to live together may have increased significantly, but the laws still do not cater to these relationships, which is why Judge Colleen's ruling is a remarkable one. 

Perhaps, in future, this ruling will be one to open other loopholes for cohabiting couples to be legally recognised.

Whether the rights of married couples are granted to unmarried couples or not, some people would still prefer not to cohabit while others find it a better option.

Watch below: Women talk about cohabiting on The Real

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Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
22% - 674 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
9% - 279 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
50% - 1546 votes
Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
1% - 40 votes
It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
18% - 556 votes
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