What is a de facto re­la­tion­ship?

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

The gen­eral rule is that once you have been in a re­la­tion­ship (de facto, mar­ried or civil union) for three years or more, in the event you sep­a­rate all of your ‘re­la­tion­ship prop­erty’ is to be di­vided equally.

The length of any de facto re­la­tion­ship and mar­riage are com­bined. But how do you know if you are in a de facto re­la­tion­ship?

You will be con­sid­ered to be in a de facto re­la­tion­ship with some­one if you are both 18 years or older, if you are liv­ing together as a cou­ple, and you are not mar­ried or in a civil union.

When de­ter­min­ing if you are liv­ing together as a cou­ple, the court will take into ac­count the fol­low­ing fac­tors:

the du­ra­tion of the re­la­tion­ship;

whether or not you are liv­ing together in the same house;

whether or not you have a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship;

the de­gree of fi­nan­cial de­pen­dence or in­ter­de­pen­dence you have, and any ar­range­ments for fi­nan­cial sup­port be­tween you;

whether or not you own, use, or have ac­quired prop­erty together;

the de­gree of mu­tual com­mit­ment you have to a shared life together;

whether or not you have chil­dren;

the per­for­mance of house­hold du­ties; and

whether or not you present your­selves as a cou­ple to friends, fam­ily and the pub­lic. If you are un­sure whether you are in a de facto re­la­tion­ship, we sug­gest dis­cussing the above fac­tors with your part­ner/ex­part­ner to see if you can reach an agree­ment as to when your re­la­tion­ship changed from one of boyfriend/girl­friend to a de facto re­la­tion­ship.

The turn­ing point for most cou­ples is when they de­cide to move in together, al­though this is not de­ter­mi­na­tive.

The date you en­tered into a de facto re­la­tion­ship is im­por­tant for de­ter­min­ing when your re­la­tion­ship be­comes/be­came one that qual­i­fies un­der the Act, and there­fore what prop­erty is re­la­tion­ship prop­erty and what prop­erty is sep­a­rate prop­erty. If you are in a de facto re­la­tion­ship, es­pe­cially com­ing up on the three-year mark, you may wish to con­sider en­ter­ing into a Con­tract­ing Out Agree­ment.

Such an agree­ment al­lows you to pre­vent as­sets from be­com­ing re­la­tion­ship prop­erty when they oth­er­wise would. For in­stance, the fam­ily home is al­ways clas­si­fied as re­la­tion­ship prop­erty re­gard­less of how it came into the re­la­tion­ship, and the value of the fam­ily home will in most cases be di­vided equally on separation.

If the fam­ily home has been brought into the re­la­tion­ship by one part­ner and an­other home by an­other part­ner then it might be un­just that one is di­vided but the other re­tained by one part­ner.

It is best to get those sorts of is­sues agreed to avoid ar­gu­ments or ill feel­ings later.

Col­umn cour­tesy of RAINEY COLLINS LAWYERS­phone 0800 733 484 www.rain­ey­col lins.co.nz. If you have a le­gal inquiry you would like dis­cussed in this col­umn email Alan on aknowsley@ rain­ey­collins.co.nz

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Be­fore the ro­mance dies, it could pay to sort out the rather un­ro­man­tic de­tails of your re­la­tion­ship.

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