What is meant when you say "until remarriage"?

In a recent case of CB and Another vs HB, the Supreme Court of Appeal had an opportunity to examine the meaning of the words "remarriage" where the Defendant in a Divorce Settlement agreed to pay the Plaintiff a certain sum in maintenance until her death or remarriage.

Said Plaintiff, according to the Case notes then entered into a Cohabitation ceremony, which the said Defendant then said constituted a marriage. As per social media postings by involved parties, it was also thought of as a marriage (as per the case notes).

Briefly, the majority of the Court reasoned that South African law required certain things to be done in order for a marriage to be regarded as being valid and the said cohabitation ceremony did not fulfil these. It also held that the parties to the settlement agreement had an opportunity to include the word "cohabitation" but did not.

The majority of the Court also appeared to take the view that a Maintenance Court could have been approached to vary the maintenance portion of the said Divorce Settlement.

The dissenting view of the Court was that context matters, and having regard to the circumstances of the case and the cohabitation ceremony, the said social media postings and the wording of the settlement agreement, the cohabitation ceremony was used by the Plaintiff to technically avoid falling foul of the settlement agreement which prohibited remarriage.

The above is merely information and is not meant to be a thorough analysis of the case or of the circumstances surrounding your particular issues. Please consult an Attorney for complete analysis and advice. Ismail Ayob and Partners practice in the area of Divorce and Family Law and can assist.