If you can’t agree on dividing property in separation get help
If you are married, in a civil union or a de facto relationship and decide to separate, you can agree between yourselves how to share your property and the court doesn’t have to be involved.
But, if you want to be able to enforce the agreement through the court, your agreement must be in writing and both of you must have had independent legal advice. The Family Court can become involved if you can’t agree or if your agreement is unfair or doesn’t work. The court will identify the relationship property, value it and decide how it will be divided between you and your expartner.
If you have been together more than three years, relationship property will be divided equally, unless the court thinks that would be extremely unfair. If your marriage or civil union has lasted less than three years, the family home and contents will be shared based on what each of you has brought to the relationship if: they were owned by one of you before you got together, they were received by one of you as a gift or inheritance during the relationship or one of you made a far greater contribution to the relationship. Most people who have lived together in a de facto relationship for less than three years will not be covered by the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, unless there’s a child involved or one person has made a significant contribution to the relation ship.
Relationship property covers things of financial value gained during the relationship and it is important to note the family home (even if it is in the name of only a husband, wife or partner) and its contents, chattels, are never considered separate property. For more detailed information regarding this visit justice.govt.nz/family/relationshipproperty or seek legal advice.
For free confidential advice and information on this or any other matter visit the Palmerston North Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Hancock Community House, 77 King St. Opening hours, Mon-Fri from 9 am-4.30 pm, call 357-0647 or 0800 367 222.
We have free legal advice by qualified lawyers most Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm, and a JP is available on Tuesdays from noon to 2.30pm. No appointment is necessary for either service.