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Advantages and disadvantages of different Matrimonial Property Regimes of Rwanda

By Esther Muhozi
On 9 December 2023 at 10:08

Matrimonial regime is a type of marriage that outlines the rules under which the properties and debts of the spouses that accumulate during marriage will be shared in case of divorce.

In Rwanda, marriage regimes are provided for under law No: 27/2016 of 08/07/2016 governing matrimonial regimes, donations and succession.

Nonetheless there are advantages and disadvantages of each of the matrimonial regime in Rwanda and it is up to the couple to choose what can be most favorable for them take at each of the regimes.

Community of property regime

In this arrangement of marriage of community of property regime, the spouses intend to have joint ownership of property and the spouses shall select among themselves, who shall have the obligation of management of the common patrimony and they equally share the rights to monitor and to present.

The spouses are jointly held liable for the debts contracted before and after their marriage, this is a very crucial point to note as you make your choice on which marriage regime to legalize.

Where dissolution of a community of property regimes occurs either by divorce or changing the type of matrimonial regime, the spouses share equally the properties. assets and liabilities, court may as well order for deduction of the shares on each spouse for the value of damages caused by either spouse.

Advantages

Joint Ownership: Both spouses share ownership of all property acquired during the marriage.

Equal Sharing: Assets and liabilities are equally divided upon dissolution of the marriage, promoting fairness.

Unified Financial Responsibility: Both spouses are jointly liable for debts, fostering shared financial responsibility.

Disadvantages

Shared Debts: Both spouses are collectively responsible for debts, which may lead to financial strain if one spouse incurs significant liabilities.

Lack of Independence: Limited financial autonomy for individual spouses as all assets are jointly owned.

Equal Sharing May Not Reflect Individual Contributions: The equal division might not consider individual efforts or contributions to the marital property.

Limited community of property regime

A limited community of property regime implies that the spouse married under that regime shall only share the assets and debts that accrued when they are together right from the wedding day.

Under this regime of limited community of property, spouses manage the property based on the common agreement , they even have the same legal obligation to follow it up and act as legal representative of that common property.

Advantages

Selective Sharing: Limited sharing of assets and debts, focusing only on those acquired during the marriage.

Individual Management: Spouses have the flexibility to manage their personal assets independently.

Potential for Fairness: Allows for a more nuanced distribution of assets and debts based on individual contributions.

Disadvantages

Complexity in Management: Requires careful documentation and agreement on which assets and debts are shared.

Potential for Disputes: Disputes may arise if there is ambiguity in the agreement regarding shared assets and debts.

Less Financial Integration: Limited community may lead to less financial integration and shared responsibility.

Separation of property regime

Under the separation of property regime, the spouses take back their own property after divorce.

The property which the spouses previously owned jointly shall be considered to be equally owned unless there is proof that changes the whole facts as stated.

The regime of separation of property is a contract under which either spouses agree to contribute to the expenses of the household in proportion to their respective abilities while retaining the right of administration, enjoyment and free disposal of their personal property.

Each spouse is liable for the personal debts contracted before or after marriage unless the spouse has contracted such debts of the household.

The joint debt is paid by each spouse from his or her own property according to the arrangement they both agreed upon while contracting that debt.

When dissolution of separation of property of marriage occurs, due to divorce or change of marriage regime, both spouses take their properties independently without seeking for court clarification.

Various matrimonial regimes come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the following points aim to illuminate some of them.

Advantages:

Individual Ownership: Each spouse retains ownership of their personal assets after divorce.

Financial Independence: Spouses maintain financial independence, managing their assets and debts individually.

Clear Financial Boundaries: Clearly defines each spouse’s financial responsibilities and ownership.

Disadvantages:

Unequal Contribution: There might be unequal contributions to household expenses, potentially causing financial disparities.

Complex Financial Arrangements: Requires careful planning and agreement on financial responsibilities.

Potential for Disputes: Disputes may arise if there is ambiguity or disagreement regarding financial arrangements.

Choosing the most suitable regime depends on the couple’s financial goals, preferences, and level of trust and cooperation. Legal advice is essential to make an informed decision tailored to the couple’s specific circumstances.


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