Life partnerships differ from a marriage in that it is neither binding to the husband or the wife or both parties involved. Although the courts have decided whether an express or implied partnership exists, it becomes problematic in proving that such legal obligations exist. Life partnerships (cohabitations) are unique in that they have the same legal consequences as that of a marriage, but parties are not legally bound to each other. Life partnerships (cohabitations) are terminated either by the relationship failing or by death of either party.

The law does, however, allow couples who wish to remain unmarried to have something in writing to prove the existence of their relationship, thus constituting a contract of sort. It is in this written notarial cohabitation agreement where couples specify the legal and propriety consequences of their relationship. This type of contract can be tailored to suit the needs of the couple concerned.


In certain Visa applications at the Department of Home Affairs, the Life Partnership Agreement notarised by a Notary Public can be a requirement.This could include applying for a valid spousal visa in South Africa, or trying to prove the existence of a cohabitation relationship in order to register an unmarried partner in a medical aid.

A Cohabitation Agreement sets out the financial terms of a couple’s relationship, and provides protection for the parties upon death, or should the relationship fail.  In case of homosexual couples, this type of agreement can assist to prove the existence of their relationship/marriage in countries were civil unions are not yet recognized as a valid union.


  • Any unmarried couple in a relationship and living with each other could find this agreement useful.
  • South Africa couples needing this type of contract to apply for a valid life partnership Visa.
  • Homosexual couples in a civil union intending to move or relocate to a country which does not recognize a life partnership union as a valid union.

It is advisable that you contact Notary Pretoria to assist you to draft such an agreement.