In New Zealand, the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (“the PRA”) governs the general principles surrounding how couples (married, de facto, or civil union) shall divide assets in the event of separation.
Generally speaking, you and your spouse/partner are each entitled to a half share of your family home, your family chattels, and any other relationship property. This is usually referred to as the “equal sharing” rule.
However, it is possible to contract out of some provisions of the Act in what is known as a “contracting out agreement”.
What are contracting out agreements?
Contracting out agreements are also commonly known as “pre-nuptial agreements”. These agreements, as provided for in the PRA, essentially allow couples to opt out of the equal sharing rules.
A contracting out agreement can help to protect pre-relationship property (or any property you wish to retain as your own separate property).
As experienced relationship property lawyers, we can help you enter into a contracting out agreement with your partner. We have expertise both drafting, and reviewing, contracting out agreements.
How We Can Help
Upon receiving your instructions, we will be able to (as and if necessary):
- Obtain all relevant information from both you and your spouse to determine your assets and liabilities position;
- Negotiate with your spouse on your behalf;
- Assess the risk of the proposed division;
- Draft or review the contracting out agreement;
- Assist your signing of the agreement and certify the agreement.
If you wish to enter into a contracting out agreement to protect your assets, feel free to contact one of our solicitors on 09 366 6860 for further advice.
Can my partner and I enter into a contracting out agreement without hiring a lawyer?
No. Both you and your partner must engage separate lawyers. It is required under the PRA that all contracting out agreements must be certified by lawyers through a specific process.
How long into my relationship should I wait before entering an agreement?
Typically, the PRA rules apply once you have been in your de facto relationship for 3 years. However, if you have not yet been in a de facto relationship for 3 years, you may still be covered by the Act. If you get in touch with us, we can help you assess whether your relationship is a qualifying relationship.
What if my partner and I have already separated?
You can consider entering into a separation agreement to record the division of your relationship property. The principles applying to separation agreements are similar to those that apply to contracting out agreements.