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What relationships should the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 cover?

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 applies to three types of relationships: marriages, civil unions and de facto relationships.

The Act requires people who have left these relationships to divide their property in the same way, regardless of what type of relationship they were in. If the relationships have not lasted three years, special rules apply.

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 applies the same rules to all relationship types because it recognises that many long-term de facto relationships are very similar to marriages and civil unions. Do you think the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 should continue to treat similar relationships in the same way?

If the Act applies the same rules to all long-term relationships, it is important that the Act focuses on relationships that are similar and excludes relationships that are different. We want to know if you think the de facto relationships that the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 focuses on are similar to marriages and civil unions.

The definition of de facto relationship needs to be clear so people can tell whether the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 applies to them or not. At the same time it must be flexible because every relationship is different. We want to know if the Act’s definition achieves the right balance between certainty and flexibility.

We also want to know if the definition of de facto relationships works for particular groups:

  1. people in Māori customary marriages;
  2. relationships involving young people; and
  3. relationships with and between members of the LGBTQI+ community.

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 does not apply to relationships in which people care and support each other in a platonic, non-romantic way. We want to know if the Act should apply to these relationships.

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