In July 2019 the Law Commission presented a report to the Government making 140 recommendations to changes to the current relationship property laws in New Zealand. 

The report concluded that the laws as they currently stand as a whole are no longer fit for purpose and that changes are needed to be made to reflect the way relationships have evolved since 1976, when the current law came into force.

It was expected that the Government would deal with these issues in early to mid-2020.

However the Government has responded to say that it will not be considering changes to relationship property law until it has completed a review of succession laws, governing people’s wills and estates. 

From the Government’s perspective, a review of succession laws will have impacts on relationship property, as the current relationship property laws allow for a surviving spouse or partner to apply for a division of relationship property upon the death of their spouse or partner.

Succession law is unlikely to be reviewed until later in 2020. 

With 2020 also being our election year, it is unlikely that changes to relationship property law will be dealt with for some time yet.

Shaun Cousins