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Introducing the Law Commission’s review of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 is law about how people in relationships must divide their property when they separate, or if one of them dies.

The law aims to achieve a just division of property between partners on the basis that the relationship is a “joint venture”. Each partner is assumed to have contributed to the relationship, even if in different ways, and the general rule is that each partner is therefore entitled to an equal share of the property if they separate or one of them dies.

The law was made over 40 years ago. The way people in New Zealand enter and leave relationships has changed. We are looking at how the law works and whether it needs to change.

We want to know what you think.

These are some of the big questions we are looking at:

  1. What relationships should the law apply to?
  2. What property should be shared at the end of a relationship?
  3. What should happen if trusts are involved?
  4. What should happen when equal sharing does not fix
    inequalities between the partners?
  5. How should the law recognise children’s interests?
  6. What can help people resolve their disputes cheaply, simply and
    quickly?
  7. Does the law adequately allow for tikanga Māori?
  8. What should happen when one partner in a relationship dies?

If you would like to know more about any of these questions in detail, you can read our full Issues Paper here.

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