Palmerston North
06 3582076

Relationship and Matrimonial Property Disputes

We have expertise in handling or opposing claims brought under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

Although this Act has been in force for many years, we find most clients are not clear as to their entitlements. This is partly because many of the Act’s provisions allowed for significant Court interpretation, and also because every case is unique.

Particular areas of the law which have gone through interpretation and change include;

  • questions of economic disparity between the parties, for example loss of career or earnings power by one party,
  • the changing nature of assets during the marriage or relationship,
  • whether, and if so how, Separate Property is intermingled with Relationship Property,
  • questions of fairness over the presumption of equal sharing especially in marriages or relationships of “short duration”, generally meaning less than three years.

While we are skilled at negotiation and strive to avoid Court, sometimes the nature of the separation or the value of the assets mean Court proceedings are necessary. Of course our deep knowledge of the Court process is of great assistance to our clients in the negotiation process.

The Law Commission has been reviewing the Act and has formulated a number of recommendations which, at November 2018, are under review and consultation. These may impact on the presumption of equal sharing of the Matrimonial or Family Home, with equal sharing perhaps only applying only to the increase in capital value. The Commission has also recommended that where there are children the principal caregiver will have preference for remaining in the principal home of the marriage or relationship and share in part of the other partner’s earnings for a period after separation.

We will be keeping a close eye on the proposed changes and will up to speed on implications for our clients.


Our experts in Relationship and Matrimonial Property Disputes are