The institution of marriage and the importance thereof have been recognised throughout the centuries. As a part of our law originates from the Roman-Dutch law a brief overview of marriage and cohabitation during the early Roman legal history follows in the paragraphs below. Through all periods of the Roman legal history, the roman marriage was recognised and regulated by customs and mores.

The roman marriage was not a legal union but had some legal consequences, such as children born from the relationship, matrimonium, was legitimate children. The main objective of such a matrimonium was to bear children. Since Roman law did not prescribe legal formalities with regards to a ceremony for a marriage, it was difficult to distinguish between a marriage and a co-habitation partnership. There was no special act required for concluding a legal marriage, consensus, meeting of wills was the only requirement for a valid marriage. The parties had to have the intent, affection maritalis, to enter into a union, to live together as husband and wife for as long as they will live, to the exclusion (monogamous) of others. It was therefore desirable for parties to announce their intention to be married.

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