I need advise on the following if a woma...

Asked by Dean on 22-09-2019 11:01:58
Question posted in the General Law category relating to Gauteng

I need advise on the following if a woman has been in a realtionship for 11 years with a man and they lived together for 11 years but they are not married and the house is in the mans name but the woman has put all her life saving and money into the house (putting extensions on the house and putting in a swimming pool) but the relationship is breaking down can this woman claim her money back from this man and how can she get her money back and go forward and start a new life.

Answer to the Question

Posted by Att. Patrick on 22-09-2019 15:22:26

Hi there Dean and thank you for your question,

I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.

Just to be clear, because you are not married or you have not entered into a formal civil ceremony, you are not entitled to 50% of her assets, and she is not entitled to 50% of your assets, or maintenance, or anything like that. You are also not entitled to continued support from her estate if she dies, and the same thing the other way around. 

BUT, you might be able to prove that you have both entered into a "universal partnership" which means that you are entitled to something. 

A universal partnership is where 2 people enter into a relationship but it is more than just a romantic relationship. There is an understand that they will, as partners, do something in order to achieve a benefit. e.g. they will both put money into a house so that they can both benefit when they sell the house. Or, person A will work for person B's company to assist person B in increasing the value of the company, so that ultimately they can both benefit from it. 

Assuming that you are the man, and the woman is your partner ... Based on your facts I would say that your partner is more than CERTAINLY able to prove that she entered into a universal partnership with you, and that she would be entitled to share in the profits (or increase in value) of your house. Exactly how you calculate that increase in value, and whether she is entitled to 30% or it or 50% of it depends massively on how much she actually contributed. 

You would really need an accountant to assist in this calculation, because it can get quite complicated quite quickly. 

One way would be to say that she should get her money back with interest, but that might not adequately compensate her for the investment. e.g. the house could have increased in value by more than 10% per year, so why should she be limited to 10% interest per year. (Just as an example)

But the crux of my answer is yes, she can claim her money back, and probably more than just interest. 

If the man doesn't agree to a split of the money after a proper calculation, then she would need to issue a summons and sue the man for the split, and the return of the money. Ultimately, the sheriff of the court could attach the house, sell it at auction, and give her her share. 

If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.

Att. Patrick

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