Proposed changes to the Property (Relationships) Act 1976

The Law Commission has published its review of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (“the Act”). The Law Commission’s review of the Act included (but it was not limited to) the following matters:

  1. The definitions of property, relationship property, and separate property;
  2. How a de facto relationship is defined for the purposes of the Act;
  3. Differences in the rules governing de facto relationship and marriages/civil unions;
  4. Whether the Act gives rise to matters of particular concern to Maori and how these should be addressed;
  5. How the interests of children are recognised and protected under the Act and how it is applied;
  6. How the Act functions in relation to sequential relationships and blended families;
  7. The ability to make adjustments to take account of economic disparity between spouses and partners, and other departures from equal sharing as contemplated by the Act.
  8. The operation of Part 5 of the Act concerning relationship property and creditors;
  9. How the Act deals with property held by a company or trust and the power of the courts in this area;
  10. The application of the Act and section 82 of the Family Proceedings Act 1980;
  11. The provisions relating to contracting out and settlement agreements;
  12. The division of property on death;
  13. The requirements for disclosure of information in relationship property matters and the consequences of failing to disclose;
  14. The jurisdiction of the courts in relationship property matters and the range of orders the courts can make;
  15. Whether the Act adequately deals with cross-border issues.
  16. Whether the Act facilitates resolution of relationship property matters in accordance with the reasonable expectations of the parties.

Here is the link to the Issues Paper: Review of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976: Preferred Approach

The Law Commission is not undertaking a formal public consultation process they are however inviting submissions from the public until 14 December 2018.

While the review paper is lengthy, it is conveniently divided into sections and relatively easy to follow. It may be of particular interest to read those portions of the paper which may be of relevance to you.

Further updates from the Law Commission will be published as they become available.