If you are involved in a relationship property dispute you may not know what assets are held by your former partner, especially if they were the one who controlled the financial affairs of the relationship.

Finding out what assets there are is important when deciding whether it is worthwhile investing in Court action to get a fair split of the assets.

There are a number of ways to deal with this, some of which don't involve you filing full proceedings in Court.

In the first instance, you can apply for an order for discovery before proceedings even commence.  The Court can then order the other party to file an affidavit detailing the assets held - or what has become of them - along with copies of relevant documents such as bank statements, share registers etc.

This is an inexpensive way to force disclosure, and it can sometimes resolve matters without further Court involvement.  In other words, once the assets are disclosed, it is easier to work out whether a settlement is reasonable or not.

In situations when Court proceedings have begun, but the other party is still resisting providing information, an application can be made to the other side for them to answer specific questions under oath.

Doing this, with carefully drafted queries, helps to get to the heart of the dispute.  This is extremely useful when the other party has been deliberately avoiding the issue.

An application can also be made for an examination of the other party.  The Court may thus make an order that the stubborn party be summoned before the Registrar to answer questions from the Registrar, on the subject matter they have been avoiding. 

This will force a party to give evidence on oath that the Court and you can make use of in the proceedings.  Any untrue answers could result in criminal perjury charges.

Alternatively, an application can be made for a Registrar’s enquiry, by which the Court will appoint the Registrar of the Court (or another suitable professional) to make an inquiry into the disputed facts, and report to the Court.

You can even apply to depose another party. This allows your lawyer to cross-examine another party in advance of the full Court hearing. This can help encourage disclosure of information, as well as help elicit reasonable settlement offers. Once again, untrue answers can result in perjury charges.

There are many ways to manage problems which may arise during the disclosure process.  However, it is important that you seek and receive legal advice from an experienced practitioner to navigate these.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.


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.