A Duty of Support for All South African Unmarried Intimate Partners Part 2

36 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2019

See all articles by Elsje Bonthuys

Elsje Bonthuys

University of the Witwatersrand

Date Written: October 19, 2018


Part I of this two-part article argued that post-constitutional developments of the right to support have excluded the largest and most vulnerable sector of South African women – African women in invalid customary marriages and in intimate partnerships which do not resemble monogamous Western nuclear households. Part II explores the avenues to develop customary and common law to extend rights to support to these women. It argues that the current position discriminates against poor, rural African women on multiple intersecting grounds, which creates a duty for courts to develop the current legal rules. Customary law affords scope for development in relation to women in invalid customary marriages. Common law rights to support can be extended either ex contractu or ex lege. Because contractual support rights are of limited use to poor women, the legacy of the majority judgments in Volks v Robinson 2005 5 BCLR 446 (CC) (Volks) must be confronted to strengthen the legal basis for an automatic duty of support to all women in unmarried intimate relationships. The argument in Volks that, women choose to forego legal rights by not getting married is criticised. The minority judgment in Laubscher v Duplan 2017 2 SA 264 (CC) does, however, create potential for overturning this reasoning.

Keywords: Duty of support, customary law, contract, choice to marry

Suggested Citation

Bonthuys, Elsje, A Duty of Support for All South African Unmarried Intimate Partners Part 2 (October 19, 2018). Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, Vol. 21, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3378448

Elsje Bonthuys (Contact Author)

University of the Witwatersrand ( email )

1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Gauteng 2000
South Africa

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