Mr M and Ms M were in a de facto relationship for 14 years until they separated in 1991.  During their relationship, they purchased a property in joint names – fully funded by a mortgage.

When they separated Ms M moved out while Mr M remained in the property and undertook sole responsibility for repayment of the mortgage for the next 24 years.  Over time, Mr M tried to obtain agreement from Ms M to transfer her share of the property to him.  While Ms M remained uninterested in the property and acknowledged that Mr M was exclusively entitled to it, she took no steps to effect the transfer of her share to him.  This left Mr M no option but to make an application to the Court.

The Court determined that the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 did not apply as the couple had separated before 1 February 2002.  Instead, it found that Ms M had clearly expressed an intention that the property should transfer wholly to Mr M; which meant the property was held on ‘constructive trust’ for him.  This enabled the Court to award the property in its entirety to Mr M.

We note that if the couple had separated after 1 February 2002, the decision would have been different (as the property would have been the family home to which Ms M would have been entitled to a half share), but the outcome may have been identical (as the Court can compensate a party for contributions made after separation, it could feasibly have compensated Mr M for 24 years of mortgage repayments by awarding him Ms M’s share of the property).

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.