The small house clause of the proposed Marriages Act is likely to sail through Parliament with amendments.

The new proposal says couples living together on a genuine domestic basis, with neither married to anyone else, but who have not entered into a civil marriage or into a formally solemnised or officially registered customary union, will be deemed to be in a civil partnership under the proposed new Marriages Act.

This will mean that when the partnership dissolves, the property will be divided or distributed in terms of the Matrimonial Clauses Act, which has hitherto applied only to those in registered unions who are divorced.

The amendments on the civil partnership also close loopholes when it comes to dividing property, dealing with complications such as they continue living together when one gets married and even when one enters a civil marriage with someone else but a customary union with the civil partner, in which case they will be regarded as being in an unregistered customary union regardless of whether lobola was paid, or not paid in full.

This largely protects women who live with someone, and then get dumped without a cent.