The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 says that each partner should share equally in the couple’s relationship property. We look at what relationship property means in what property should be covered by the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.
The general rule of equal sharing is very important. It gives each partner an automatic right. They need not prove that they contributed money or did things to justify their equal share.
There are many good things about the equal sharing rule.
- Equal sharing reflects how we should think about relationships. Both partners contribute to a relationship in equal but different ways. It does not matter, for instance, if one partner earns income while the other provides childcare. Each partner should get an equal share of relationship property because their contributions are of equal worth.
- Lots of people know about equal sharing. It is helpful when people know about the law and have accurate expectations about how it will divide property when a relationship ends.
- The equal sharing rule is simple and easy to apply. This helps people sort out their own affairs without going to court.
- The law protects weaker partners. Because the rule is well known and easy to apply, it is easier for people to assert their right to half the relationship property.
There are some exceptions to equal sharing. But they only apply in limited circumstances. We look at some of these exceptions here. The partners can also agree to divide their property in a different way provided they have followed the right process.