When separating from your partner or spouse a division of all the jointly-owned property is one of the crucial steps that must be taken to effect the separation process. This division includes all relationship property, including the family home in which you and your ex-partner or spouse lived.

The temptation can sometimes be to sell the house as soon as possible, as many couples want the separation process to be over as soon as possible. This may however be an unwise financial decision depending on the current condition of the housing market.

In some cases selling the family home immediately after separation could lead to a significant loss of potential future assets.

If for example you and your ex-partner or spouse bought a home when the housing market was at a high, but decided to separate after a downturn in the market, you may sell your house for less than what you purchased it for, or at least at a price which significantly reduces your shared equity in the property.

One option available to couples who are separating but don’t wish to sell their house is to agree to defer the sale of the shared property to a time where market conditions are likely to have improved.

A deferred sale agreement will stipulate certain conditions that must be met for the sale of the property to go ahead. This will usually include a certain time frame in which the house must be sold. This will allow time for the market to rise, and may well improve the value that you get from the house.

A deferred sale agreement would serve to delay the sale of the property until the market recovers, as the agreement would stipulate that the house would be sold within a certain time frame down the line, when the market is anticipated to be in better shape.

The downside to entering this arrangement is that you will be still required to pay the outgoings such as mortgage loan repayments, council and environmental rates and insurances, as well as potentially paying rent, power and internet elsewhere (particularly if the other partner or spouse or partner is still in the house).

It can at times pay to hold off from selling your house if the market is in a period of downturn. This requires patience to wait for the right time to sell. If there is confusion about such an agreement, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience 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 & Matthew Binnie

Litigation Team


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.