The law allows a couple to make their own agreement to divide their property in the way they want if they separate or if one partner dies.
A couple can enter an agreement before or during the relationship. Or they can enter an agreement when they separate to settle their affairs.
If the couple enter an agreement by following the proper procedure, the agreement is a contract.
We know little about couples who enter agreements before or during their relationship. We do not know how common it is for couples in New Zealand enter agreements. We do not know the main reasons they enter agreements.
Some reasons might be:
- The couple want to be certain about what will happen if they separate.
- The couple have children from previous relationships and want to make sure they can keep certain property for their children.
- The couple have assets that produce income, like an interest in a business or a rental property, and they want to make sure dividing their property will not affect the asset’s income.
Likewise, we know little about why some couples do not enter agreements before or during their relationship. Some reasons might be:
- It is too expensive to get legal advice.
- It is too awkward and difficult to talk about what should happen if the couple separate.
- The couple never imagine their relationship would end.
We want you to tell us about how New Zealanders use and think about agreements to divide their property.