Property Relationship Act: When Do You Need a Relationship Property Lawyer?

Navigating property division during the end of a relationship can be an emotionally challenging experience. It is a time when ensuring a fair division of assets becomes paramount. Under the Property Relationship Act, for a division of property and agreement to be binding in respect of separation matters, and how to mitigate risks by taking legal advice in your relationship before committing to share everything with your partner, seeking independent legal advice is essential and mandatory. This article highlights what the Property Relationship Act entails.

What is the Property Relationship Act


The Property Relationship Act, crucial legislation in New Zealand, applies to married partners, civil unions, and de facto relationships. This law governs the division of property and assets between couples in the event of separation or dissolution of a relationship. The basis of the Act is that when a couple are deemed to be in a relationship, if they separate, relationship property is divided 50/50.  A couple can contract out of this premise if they choose to in their relationship and can agree on what assets and liabilities are to be separate property in the event of separation, important if one party has property they have acquired prior to the relationship or wish to retain as their own.

The Act recognises the equal contributions made by both partners during the relationship, and it offers a fair and equitable framework for the property division upon separation.

It is important to note that any drafted agreement between you and your partner may not be legally binding and could be overridden by the provisions outlined in the Property Relationship Act.  Unless you have obtained a written separation agreement duly signed by both parties and both obtained independent legal advice.

How to mitigate relationship issues?

Entering a Relationship

If one or both parties have property they don’t want divided in the event of a separation it is prudent to seek advice from a relationship property lawyer before you move in together or formalise your relationship. Your solicitor can help draft a legally binding “Contracting Out Agreement” commonly called a “Prenuptial Agreement.” This agreement specifies property division in the event of separation or divorce. It allows you and your partner to decide the fair distribution of your assets if your relationship ends and can give you peace of mind and minimise potential disputes in the future.

If your relationship ends

If a relationship ends through separation or divorce, your relationship property lawyer’s role is crucial in ensuring a fair division of assets. Your solicitor will assess the nature and value of each party’s assets, debts, and financial contributions during the relationship, and will guide you through the legal processes, negotiating on your behalf to achieve a resolution that protects your interests and rights.

Disputes and Complex Situations

In some cases, the division of relationship property can become complex and contentious. For example, if one partner has made significant financial contributions, inherited assets, or owned a business during the relationship, it may require expert legal assistance to ensure a fair outcome. A relationship property lawyer offers invaluable advice, helps you navigate the complexities, and represents your interests during negotiations or court proceedings.

Whether entering a relationship or facing separation, you must protect your rights, have peace of mind, and try to avoid future disputes. That is why we strongly recommend that you seek advice from an expert relationship property lawyer.

At The Law Connection, we can advise you on all matters relating to relationship property and help you prepare an agreement that complies with the formalities of the Property Relationship Act when you are making plans with your partner or in the difficult situation of a relationship breakdown. Call us today for a legal consultation.