Most couples plan their wedding day, months, if not years before the day arrives; with the venue, wedding dress, menu, flower décor and guest list meticulously mapped out for the big day. But with the strike of COVID-19, many did not imagine that internet connectivity would be the most important detail on the day they said “I do.”
Whilst some couples postponed their wedding ceremonies, others opted for a non-traditional ‘walk down the aisle’ via platforms such as Skype, Zoom, FaceTime and the likes.
However, a pertinent question remains…did these couples spare a thought as to whether their marriage could have been considered a valid one?
There are five principal requirements for a valid marriage in South African law:
1. Both persons to the marriage must give consent to get married and must be older than 18 years of age;
2. A person younger than 18 years of age, needs the permission of his/her parent or guardian/s to get married.
3. The marriage must be lawful, for example:
o Persons who are closely related (such as a brother and sister, or parent and child) may not get married; or
o A person may not have more than one marriage at a time, except for certain instances under customary marriages.
4. Certain formalities must be adhered to, such as that the marriage must be concluded by a marriage officer and in the presence of two witnesses.
5. A marriage must be registered at the Department of Home Affairs.
In the aforementioned, requirements one to three could have effortlessly been complied with, as the couple would have either abided by the said principals, or not. And of course, as per requirement four, a marriage could have, and may still be concluded by a marriage officer in the presence of two witnesses, provided they ‘attend’ the wedding ceremony with the aid of technology through Zoom and the likes.
A picture-perfect day for any couple, but a wedding day that remains a pipe dream for many during this lockdown, who do not have the privilege of internet connectivity.
It’s important to note that over and above the requirements stated above, one ought to understand the legal consequences of a marriage, particularly that marriages in South Africa are automatically recognised as being in Community of Property, unless a valid Ante-Nuptial contract has been entered into before the marriage.
If you can safely confirm that your internet marriage has ticked all the requirements above, then your marriage will be recognised as a legal union.
Should you be uncertain that your marriage is valid, you are welcome to contact our experienced attorneys at Tuckers Incorporated on firstname.lastname@example.org, alternatively 011 897 1900.
Article contributed by: Raquel Partington