The accrual system came into operation with the introduction of the Matrimonial Property Act. The 'accrual' is the extent to which the husband and wife 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.
The effect of this system is that each partner retains as his or her exclusive property, for all time, anything that he or she owned at the time they became married. But anything that either spouse obtains during the marriage may have to be shared with the other partner when the marriage comes to an end. An inheritance, a legacy, a donation or compensation for injury received during the marriage will not, however, have to be shared on dissolution of the marriage as an accrual unless agreed to by the spouses in their antenuptial contract, or unless stipulated by the testator or donor.