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Cohabiting now considered as marriage in Zimbabwe





The new Marriages Bill which has been approved by cabinet formally recognises civil partnerships (umasihlalisane/kuchaya mapoto) as legal marriage.

An analysis of the Bill reveals that the law deems two people who are over 18 who have lived together but are not legally married as formal union.
 
Caroline Kache of Women and Law in Southern Africa says, " These partnerships are also known as common law marriages and where parties have been together for a while, they are deemed to be married.


"The general comments clarify that they are not recognized as marriages, but the new Bill seeks to ‘realize justice between the parties to the relationship in terms of the Matrimonial Causes Act upon the dissolution of the relationship.' This adequately protects women who have been treated unfairly by families because they were not legally married but lived with the man for years. In determining if such a relationship existed, the Bill considers many factors like duration of the relationship, common residence, if there was a sexual relationship, degree of financial dependency, care and support, reputation and public aspects of the relationship."

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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