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ConCourt sets the record straight on postnuptial contracts for married couples

Anita Mans approached the court after she and her husband signed a contract outside of their antenuptial contract with no supervision of the courts.

FILE: The Constitutional Court. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court on Tuesday dismissed an application for leave to appeal a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment on the binding nature of postnuptial contracts between married couples.

Anita Mans approached the court after she and her husband signed a contract outside of their antenuptial contract with no supervision of the courts.

The contract was to give her access to 50% of her husband Heinrich’s estate in the event of a divorce.

Anita and Heinrich Mans signed a postnuptial contact in November of 2014 after being married for over 20 years.

At the end of that month, Heinrich informed Anita of his decision to file for a divorce - a move Anita said had never been discussed throughout their marriage.

When Heinrich approached the regional court in Mpumalanga for a divorce and rights to their daughter, Anita filed a counter claim claiming that she was entitled to half of his estate.

But the court said their postnuptial agreement could not be enforceable as it was against the Matrimonial Property Act.

Anita then approached the High Court which ruled in her favour, saying the agreement was signed in contemplation of divorce with the purpose to constitute a settlement agreement.

But the SCA overturned this ruling saying divorce had not been contemplated as Anita testified that she only learned of her husband’s intention to file for divorce when he told her.

Anita took the matter to the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the case was a new one and had not been heard in a High Court or SCA until now, and it was thus not in the interest of justice to grant leave to appeal.