Legal Studies Research Paper Series

  • Holning Lau and Suzanne A. KimSouth Africa has expanded legal recognition of unmarried couples in remarkable ways. Litigation fueled much of this change, culminating in the South African Constitutional Court’s 2021 decision in Bwanya v. Master of the High Court, which concerned the financial consequences of death of unmarried “permanent life partners.” In a sweeping decision, Bwanya ruled it unconstitutional to deny surviving life partners—in different- or same-sex relationships—rights to intestate succession and maintenance from a deceased partner’s estate. Prior to Bwanya, South Africa already recognized permanent life partnerships in a wide range of legal contexts, including immigration, adoption, tax, […]