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Rainey Collins, Family Law lawyers, specialist solicitors with extensive experience in a wide range of family law advice about:

  • Adoption,
  • Care and contact with children,
  • Guardianship disputes
  • Separation,
  • Divorce and dissolution of marriage,
  • Division of relationship property,
  • Contracts about property division, before, during, and after relationships,
  • De facto relationships,
  • Family violence,
  • Family dispute resolution
  • Estate and Will disputes
  • Disputes as to Powers of Attorney and Personal Orders
  • Child support
  • Paternity matters and Donor Agreements

Any NZ law firm can claim to be the best family lawyers, but when you’re looking for specialist Wellington-based family lawyers determined to demonstrate their commitment to providing caring help cost-effectively, there’s no need for you to spend more of your valuable time searching elsewhere.

We ensure your peace of mind at exceptional value with confidential fixed-price initial consultations. Ask all your pressing questions... quickly learn what your options are and the next smart steps to take.

Relationship Property

Whether you are entering into a new relationship, making arrangements in a current relationship or dealing with a former partner you may need to put into place agreements that will comply with the law and protect your property.

Property is generally defined as either being relationship property or separate property. Relationship property is usually divided equally between a couple on separation when they have been in a qualifying relationship

A qualifying relationship is a relationship of three or more years.  It is not restricted to a marriage and can also be a civil union or de facto partnership. 

In terms of relationship property, this is all property accumulated during the period of the relationship or property that was accumulated before the relationship but used for the benefit of the relationship. 

Sometimes property that would have become relationship property can be separate property if the couple entered into a Contracting Out Agreement or “pre-nuptial” agreement at any point in time in their relationship.

Protecting your property when both entering and ending a relationship is important. We can advise you as to your rights and/or obligations and what you need to know to put valid arrangements in place.

For a more detailed discussion of Relationship Property and Relationship Property Agreements see this link, where there is also an explanation of the important differences between Relationship Property Agreements and Contracting Out Agreements (“prenups”)". 


If you are going through a separation, it is not just your property rights you need to consider. We can assist you with the separation process ensuring you are fully informed in order to make the best decisions for you and your family. You will also need to know about potential maintenance obligations or entitlements and if you have children you may need advice in respect of child care, guardianship and child support.

Contested Estates

If you have been left out of a Will or not adequately provided for, we can advise as to your options. We also assist Executors of Estates manage challenges to a Will, as well as beneficiaries of Estates whose entitlements may be challenged. 

Caring for someone who has lost their mental capacity…

The law can still help when a person loses the mental capacity to make decisions, but they do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place. Without a current valid EPA it means that there is no appointed person or attorney who has the power to make decisions for the person who no longer has the required mental capacity.

Of course, without mental capacity it is too late to make an EPA.

The Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act provides for a person, usually a relative, to apply to the Family Court to obtain orders which allow them to make decisions for the person who has lost their mental capacity.

Positions that are commonly applied for under the Act are:

  • Welfare guardians,
  • Property managers,
  • Property administrators.

Application to appoint a welfare guardian...

A welfare guardian is a person who has the power to make decisions for a person in relation to matters concerning their personal care. These matters may include:

  • standard medical care,
  • where the person lives,
  • their ongoing care arrangements.

A welfare guardian must act in the best interests of the person who has lost their mental capacity.

For the Court to appoint a welfare guardian, the person who it is to help must meet the criteria of a failed mental capacity test usually conducted by a doctor, psychiatrist or geriatrician, and the potential welfare guardian must be a suitable person to help.

Application to appoint a property manager...

A property manager is a person who deals with all of the affected person’s property or certain parts of it. More than one person can be appointed as a property manager at the same time.

In order for a person to be appointed as a property manager, the same criteria tests must be met as for a welfare guardian set out above.

Application to appoint a property administrator...

A property administrator has the power to administer specific pieces of property as set out in the application. However, the property must not be worth more than $5,000, or generate more than $20,000 income each year.  

If these amounts are exceeded, in most cases the Court will require a Property Manager Order to be made. If the amounts are slightly over, new values can be obtained (if for example the assets are motor vehicles or personal items), or if income varies from year to year the Court will look at the last 12 months.

To be appointed as a property administrator, the same criteria as above must be met in terms of capacity and suitability.

If an attorney or property manager is unsure as to a decision that they need to make for the person, they can apply to the Court for directions.

If you are a relative of, or someone close to, the person who has lost their capacity and you are concerned about the actions an attorney has taken or is proposing to take, you can apply to the Court to have those decisions reviewed.

Here at Rainey Collins we will work closely with you to guide you through all aspects of the above applications, and issues involving a loved one that may be suffering from mental incapacity and who is unable to make decisions around their care and property. 


There are five general types of adoption – by a stranger, a step parent, a foster family, a family member or an inter-country adoption.  Arranging an adoption can be done through Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) or a private organization. A private adoption however, still requires approval by CYFS. There can be lots of hurdles to overcome and we can assist with the legal process.

Caring for children or having contact with children

If you are a parent, or have children in your family that you care for, or would like to care for or have contact with, then you may need to know what options are available to you.

Childcare disputes often arise when guardians disagree about the parenting arrangements following separation, or on important matters that affect the child.

Important matters that affect children may include:

  • where a child lives and goes to school,
  • what medical treatment they receive,
  • their culture and what language they speak,
  • or the religion that they practice.

There are a variety of ways in which childcare disputes can be resolved, whether that be by agreement, or applying to the Family Court for a Parenting or Guardianship Order.

Many people resolve childcare matters by agreement between themselves, or with the assistance of lawyers. The outcome would normally be a parenting agreement.

Sometimes outside assistance is needed to resolve a childcare dispute. One option may be attending Family Dispute Resolution. This is where a trained mediator, with a background in working with families, assists and guides guardians to work towards a resolution.

In some circumstances, the only available option may be applying to the Family Court for a Parenting or Guardianship Order. If a childcare dispute progresses through the Family Court and goes to a hearing, the Judge will make a Parenting or Guardianship Order that sets out the care or contact arrangements for the child.

When the Family Court considers a childcare dispute the most important factor will be what is in the welfare and best interests of the child. This means priority will be given to what is best for the child, rather that the child’s guardians. The Family Court may also appoint a lawyer for the child to ascertain the child’s views to help with decision-making.

We can assist you with resolving childcare and guardianship disputes whether they occur upon separation, or later.

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

If you and your spouse are separated and looking for help with formally ending your marriage, Rainey Collins can be of assistance.

To dissolve a marriage you need a Dissolution Order from the Family Court.  This means that you will need to submit the correct documents to the Court, and may require the guidance of a lawyer.

To be eligible for a dissolution of marriage, you need to have been living apart for two years or more, and at least one of you needs to be living in New Zealand.

Even if you were married overseas, you may still apply for a Dissolution of Marriage in New Zealand if one of you currently lives here.

Divorces can be complicated and it is important to know your legal rights, especially if you have children or own property together. We can offer a fixed price initial consultation so you know your rights and options and can move forward with confidence.

As well as assisting you with your dissolution process, Rainey Collins team can advise you of your rights with regard to your children and property.

Domestic Violence

If you have a close personal relationship with someone (a partner, flatmate, family member, etc) and they are being physically, sexually or mentally abusive to you, then you may have grounds to apply for a Protection Order. A Protection Order lets you control what, if any, contact you have with the abusive person. It can also protect your children or other people you know. We can advise you about these Orders.

If you have had a Protection Order applied for, or granted against you, we can help with the legal process, advise you on your rights and what to do.


Related page

Relationship Property Agreements

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Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.