Sum­mer­time sep­a­ra­tion hard

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - ROB STOCK MONEY MAT­TERS rob.stock@fair­fax­me­

Sum­mer hol­i­days bring a lot of things into per­spec­tive, in­clud­ing whether it’s time to make a clean break from your re­la­tion­ship.

It’s all that time to­gether, you see, with­out the dis­trac­tion of work.

Year’s end also gets peo­ple think­ing of the fu­ture, and how to make it bet­ter.

It’s a time when peo­ple make res­o­lu­tions, pledg­ing not to smoke, to stop wast­ing money on va­p­ing, to save more, spend less, and lose their love han­dles.

So it’s not sur­pris­ing that over­seas it’s been sug­gested sep­a­ra­tion spikes in the New Year.

But by gosh, th­ese days there’s a fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive to make mar­riages work, un­less you are plan­ning to hook up with a well­heeled other.

Split­ting one house­hold into two means more rent or more mort­gage debt, more in­sur­ance, more rates.

Split­ting up can also mean lawyers.


Split­ting up is costly Pre-nups don’t come cheap Be­ware the lay­ing spouse

Be­ing mar­ried to a lawyer, I do see the up­sides in the law, but for most peo­ple, the less you have to do with lawyers, the bet­ter.

The Law So­ci­ety’s New Zealand Re­la­tion­ship Prop­erty Sur­vey of 369 fam­ily lawyers has come out in time for the sum­mer hol­i­days.

It’s a win­dow into the boom­ing in­dus­try sur­round­ing re­la­tion­ship breakups.

Four in 10 ex­pected more re­la­tion­ship breakup work in the com­ing year. Just four in a hun­dred ex­pected their work­load to de­cline.

The prospect of sum­mer hol­i­days seems to make di­vorce lawyers as happy as it makes fight­ing cou­ples mis­er­able.

The good news from the sur­vey is that most re­la­tion­ship prop­erty splits are done by ne­go­ti­a­tion, not ex­pen­sive and ridicu­lously slow hear­ings in court.

The bad news is that lawyers mostly charge ‘‘time and costs’’.

The last char­ge­out-rate sur­vey I could find was from 2016. Law­firm em­ploy­ees’ av­er­age hourly char­ge­out rate was $292.70, not in­clud­ing costs and GST.

By far the most com­mon age for sep­a­ra­tion that led to the hir­ing of one of the 369 lawyers was 40-49.

This is likely be­cause th­ese are the peo­ple with as­sets like houses and busi­nesses. The most com­mon re­la­tion­ship prop­erty ‘‘pool’’ was $500,000 to $1mil­lion.

‘‘For most peo­ple, the less you have to do with lawyers, the bet­ter.’’

Poorer folk have less to fight over. My im­pres­sion is most sort things out with­out lawyers.

Some­times split­ting cou­ples go feral, and ev­ery­thing gets ex­tremely costly.

The most com­mon problem lawyers said they faced in rep­re­sent­ing their client was that the other half of a split­ting cou­ple hid as­sets.

It may be a wise thing for some­one plan­ning on quit­ting a re­la­tion­ship to gather some ev­i­dence of as­sets be­fore they go.

Some peo­ple pre-plan their sep­a­ra­tions. They do this with a ‘‘sec­tion 21’’ con­tract­ing-out agree­ment when they hitch up. Th­ese are com­monly called ‘‘prenups’’. They are agree­ments drawn up at the start of a re­la­tion­ship which say how as­sets will be split when/if things fall apart.

Th­ese do not come cheap, but they may save costs in the event of a re­la­tion­ship end­ing.

The ma­jor­ity of lawyers charge be­tween $1000 and $5000 for one, but the real cost is ac­tu­ally higher, as both par­tieshave to get in­de­pen­dent le­gal ad­vice be­fore sign­ing.


The sum­mer hol­i­days are hard on war­ring cou­ples, and seem to spur some peo­ple’s re­solve to start afresh.

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