The Property Relationship Act applies to anyone in a marriage, civil union, or de facto relationship. It deals with how property should be divided when people in one of these relationships separate from each other.

Relationship property is defined in the Act as anything that is not separate property. Separate property is generally property which is acquired by either of the former partners before the relationship began, or without the relationship in contemplation. Separate property will not be divided between the parties.

It is important to be aware of what may or may not be claimed as relationship property during a separation, especially when things become complicated. For example, where there is a company involved.

Typically, where a former partner has purchased or formed a company, or acquired shares in a company, before the relationship began, it will be considered their own property and the other person cannot make a claim on it.

However, in some circumstances, the Court may decide that such property became shared property during the relationship. For example, if a further investment into the company was made by the partners from joint income, or the other partner has personally done work for the company other than as an employee. The Court may decide that this is enough for a shared interest to arise, and the company shares will become relationship property.

It is important to note that a company’s assets cannot be claimed as relationship property.

The Court may prevent any company shares from being moved or disposed of by a party. This can be done through a freezing order (also known as a “Mareva” order), which could last until legal proceedings finish. 

It is important to know your rights when it comes to relationship property. If you are seeking more information about these, it is beneficial to seek advice from a professional with good knowledge in the area.


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.

Shaun Cousins and Hunter Flanagan-Connors 


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.