What property should the law focus upon?

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 only applies to conventional forms of property that either or both partners own.

In a typical relationship the major property is things like a house, a car, furniture, appliances and computers, savings, and KiwiSaver.

Some partners might have access to other resources that provide financial benefits. But the law might not consider these are property. We are interested in two items in particular:

  1. a partner’s ability to earn income; and
  2. a partner’s interest under a trust.

We talk about these items further when we look at whether a partner’s ability to earn income should be relationship property, and when we look at trusts.

It might be fairer if the law focused on all the financial benefits a partner receives, whether they are a conventional form of property or not. We could then classify all resources as either relationship property or separate property. The partners would share in the true wealth of the relationship.

But people will generally be familiar with conventional types of property. If the law changed, this might create uncertainty and confusion.

What do you think?

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Technology is developing rapidly. There are many emerging forms of property that people might not be familiar with.

Partners may own cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. They may have large digital libraries of apps, software or media. They may have other forms of intangible or digital property, like frequent flyer points. These types of property might be very valuable. But, because they are new and innovative, people might not take them into account when they divide property.

We want to know whether people feel confident to say when something is property. If people do not feel confident, we’re interested to hear what will help.

What do you think?

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