Landscape NZ
Landscape NZ


Dispute Resolution
Asset Protection
Pre-Nuptial Agreement
Separation Agreements

Contracting Out Agreement
Property Sharing Agreements

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If you are starting a new relationship or are currently in one, taking a proactive approach to relationship property matters through a contracting out agreement can help prevent issues before they arise.   


For those at the end of a relationship, this often involves the division of assets, which may be disputed.    Our solicitors are experienced in resolving disputes through a suitably executed agreement, proceedings, negotiation, and/or mediation whether they involve one or more houses, rental properties, trusts, companies, farms, shares or other assets.  


Our lawyers can provide you with sound advice, discuss the implications of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and other applicable legislation, and advise you on and take the appropriate steps in the circumstances. 


For legal and practical advice in all aspects of relationship property law contact Becker & Co on today.

Property (Relationships) Act 1976

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 determines the division of assets between couples in marriages, civil unions and de facto relationships of more than 3 years.   In some circumstances, it may apply to de facto relationships of less than three years, including where a couple has a child together. 

There is a strong presumption under that Act that the parties will share equally in the family home and other relationship property on separation, although there are some exceptions to this principle.

While the Act aims to achieve a broadly just division of property, this does not match the understanding or intentions of many couples.  There are many assets which you may not have realised are deemed to be relationship property under the Act, such as the increase in value of superannuation or KiwiSaver, income, certain debts or an inheritance which has been mixed with relationship property.  

Assets held in a trust may also be considered relationship property in a number of circumstances.  These include if one party has a power to appoint and remove trustees or to control the trust in another way, or if the trust can be seen as an ante nuptial or post nuptial settlement under section 182 Family Proceedings Act 1980.

If you do not wish to divide your property in this manner, the Act provides an avenue for parties to come to a different arrangements through a relationship property agreement.


Relationship Property Agreements

Couples can enter into a relationship property agreement to determine the status, ownership and division of property between them. 

Certain requirements must be met for a relationship property agreement to be valid and binding.  These include that an agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and each party must receive independent legal advice from a practising New Zealand lawyer who certifies that they have advised their client of the effect and implications of the agreement. 

Any informal arrangement that couples reach between themselves is unlikely to be binding unless the above formalities are complied with. 


Contracting Out - Ongoing Relationships

Couples can enter into a relationship property agreement prior to or during a relationship for the purpose of determining the division of assets between them upon separation, death, or for estate planning or asset protection purposes.  

These are also sometimes colloquially referred to as "pre-nuptial agreements" or "matrimonial property agreements" but can also be entered into by partners in a de facto relationship or civil union.  We regularly draft and provide independent legal advice on these agreements and would be happy to discuss appropriate terms for your circumstances. 


Separation Agreements / Settlement Agreements

Spouses or partners who have separated can enter into a relationship property agreement, often in this context called a separation agreement to record the division of their property.   A separation agreement will usually have terms which determine the parties' shares in the relationship property, set out the division of assets, and the agreed process to be followed such as sale of the family home.  These may also include terms as to childcare.

A separation agreement is recommended in most cases of separation to help mitigate the risk that the division of assets will later be challenged.  The agreement will also provide proof of the date of separation, which is useful for parties seeking a divorce, as spouses must have been separated for two years to obtain an order for dissolution in New Zealand.  


Disputes & Litigation

We have substantial experience in protecting our clients' interests in all manner of relationship property dispute.

These can involve interests in one or more houses, companies, trusts, farms, shares and other assets of any nature to less complicated matters.

While we aim to resolve relationship property matters amicably, we have the skills, capacity and experience to take a matter to litigation, mediation or to negotiate a settlement on your behalf as required in the circumstances.


Our experienced relationship property lawyers would be happy to assist you.  For advice and assistance on all aspects of relationship property law contact Becker & Co Ltd at