Ken and Alice have recently separated and are in the process of dividing up their assets. Alice has a 40% shareholding in a company. She concedes that 30% of the company’s shares are relationship property but argues that the other 10% are separate property, having acquired the shares after separation.

Ken believes that the acquisition was planned during their relationship, and wants information on the shares so that he can determine if they are in fact relationship property. However, Alice is being uncooperative. What can Ken do in these circumstances?

Spouses have the ability to apply for discovery when one partner refuses to disclose information on assets that could be considered relationship property.

Under the Property (Relationships) Act, relationship property such as the family home, shared bank accounts, and furniture will be divided equally between partners on separation.

Often parties can become quite hostile during the division process and may, on occasion, withhold information about property that they do not wish to share equally.

In a recent case, the High Court held that discovery should have been ordered in the Family Court against ‘Alice’ and the company on a wide basis.

The High Court noted that discovery should be tailored to a particular case, and that the Court can order more substantial discovery when it believes that a party has concealed information or otherwise sought to mislead the other party or the Court as to the scope of relationship property.

The High Court ordered Alice to disclose information relating to the acquisition of the shares to her former partner so that he could assess their status.

This case demonstrates the importance of being forthright with your ex-partner when negotiating the division of property so that unnecessary costs and time delays can be avoided during settlement.

For more information on relationship property matters please contact us on (04) 473 6850.


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.