Relationships end, for many reasons and when they do, the parties to the relationship are left with the difficult task of resolving the division of their property. In New Zealand we have legislation black letter law, that deals with the division of relationship property, that legislation is called the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.
The act is described as being a code, which means that earlier rules presumptions that previously applied to relationship property are superseded by the act.
I am Aaron Nicholls and I am the Director of Nicholls Law Limited. We are a law firm on high Street in Aucklands’ CBD. I started practising law in 1996 and the very first client I had, was in relation to drafting an agreement to settle matrimonial property at the end of the parties’ marriage.
The act has is one of its clearly expressed purposes; to provide for a just (fair) division of relationship property between spouses or partners, when the relationship ends by separation or death and while doing so take into account the interests of children.
The Act is guided by principles, including
There are 2 major ways to divide your relationship property:
The Act applies to Couples who’ve been together three years – Married, civil union and de facto couples who’ve been together for at least three years are covered by the equal-sharing rules in the Act. This means the family home, car, and will usually be shared equally between them.
Short-term marriages and civil unions – Married and civil union couples who’ve been together less than three years are covered by the Act. But the presumption of 50-50 sharing may not apply to the assets of the relationship rather contribution will be more relevant (including non-financial contributions).
Short-term de facto relationships usually not covered – De facto couples who’ve been together for less than three years usually aren’t covered by the Act at all. This means that the ordinary rules of property ownership will decide what each person is entitled to. But there are some exceptions to this.
Get more help with Dividing Your Things
Go to our Cornerstone page Dividing Your Things and take the quiz to work out your situation.