If a couple have property in New Zealand and also overseas, they will need to know how the property in New Zealand and overseas will be split.

Parties can agree to divide their property by agreement without reference to a particular country’s laws but problems can arise if you need to enforce an agreement.  Only property agreements completed in accordance with the law can be enforced.

New Zealand courts can make orders in relation to property in New Zealand, and also in relation to “moveable” property anywhere in the world, provided that at least one party is living in New Zealand.

“Immoveable” property outside of New Zealand has to be dealt with in the country where the property is located.

But what is the difference between moveable and immoveable property?

Moveable versus Immoveable property

The rule in New Zealand is that the law of the country where the property is situated also determines whether the property is moveable or immoveable for the purposes of splitting the property in New Zealand.

Whether property will be considered moveable or immoveable property is dependent in each case on the country in which the property is located.

Common examples of moveable property include:

  • Pension funds
  • Shares
  • Insurance policies
  • Proceeds of sale
  • Jewellery
  • Cash
  • Bank deposits

Common examples of immoveable property include:

  • Land
  • Mortgage debt
  • Anything affixed to the land

In you have property in more than one country then that adds extra complications.  It is a good idea to understand your legal position under the relationship property laws in New Zealand before you even acquire overseas property.

Jaenine Badenhorst 

Family Lawyer
Wellington