In most cases the accrual system is, perhaps, fairest marriage system for the majority of couples. Before the introduction of the accrual system in 1984, if prospective spouses chose to be married out of community of property there was no form of sharing between them of what was built up during the marriage. The accrual system was introduced to remedy this. It is applicable to all marriages out of community of property, unless otherwise stipulated.
In terms of this regime, both spouses have separate estates during the subsistence of the marriage and do not share in each other’s profits or losses during the marriage. This system has all the advantages of the protection afforded to marriages concluded out of community of property i.e. that assets of one spouse are secure from creditors of the other spouse, but it incorporates the ethic of sharing, which is the basis of an in community of property marriage. In other words, while neither spouse will be liable for the other spouse’s debts, the parties will, however, share what they have acquired during the subsistence of the marriage. This sharing only occurs upon dissolution of the marriage. This regime of marriage allows for very imaginative and flexible estate planning.
The accrual is the extent to which the respective spouses have become richer by the end of the marriage, in other words, the amount by which the spouses’ joint wealth has increased over the period of the marriage. The spouse with the smaller accrual has a claim against the one with the greater accrual for half of the difference between the two amounts.
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