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How should the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 divide property?

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976’s central purpose is to divide a couple’s property when their relationship ends.

The law’s most well-known feature is the rule of equal sharing. Each partner gets an equal share of the couple’s relationship property. You might have heard this described as the ‘50-50 split’ or a ‘right to half the property’.

There are several exceptions to equal sharing. The main ones are where equal sharing leaves a partner disadvantaged and where extraordinary circumstances make equal sharing unjust. Special rules also apply if a relationship has not lasted three years, or if a partner has had two relationships at the same time or one after the other.

We want to hear what you think about equal sharing and whether there should be exceptions. Does the law respond in the right way when:

  1. A partner commits some misconduct in a relationship, like family violence?
  2. One partner squanders lots of property before the relationship ends?

Although a partner may share the couple’s relationship property equally, it does not mean they get half of every asset. The relationship property’s value gets divided. This might mean each partner takes certain items of property with the same value. Or it might mean that the partners sell items of property and share the sale proceeds. Or it might mean that one partner keeps items of property but pays the other partner a sum of money in return.

Working out property’s value is a very important when dividing property. We want to know how difficult it is to value property and what might help.

If people go to court to resolve disputes, the court should have authority to divide property. We want to know whether the court has the right powers.

Many types of property are difficult to divide because of the nature of the property itself. In particular, we want to hear how you think should happen when a family has pets.

Also, it can take a long time for the partners to finally resolve how they will divide their property. We want to know whether it should be easier for partners to get access to some of the property before a final division.

Or a partner might need to use property for a short-term before the asset is divided. When do you think a partner should be able to use or occupy property after a relationship ends?

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