In New Zealand, when a couple separate after a de facto relationship/civil union/marriage of three years of more, our law says that all of their “relationship property” is to be divided equally.  So what is “relationship property”?

Relationship property includes:

  • The family home which is the principal residence of the couple.  It does not matter if that home was owned by one party prior to the relationship, the family home is up for equal division;
  • Family chattels whenever they are acquired, whether pre relationship or during.  Family chattels included household furniture, appliances, household tools, gardening effects and equipment as well as motor vehicles, caravans, trailers or boats used for family purposes. Family chattels also includes household pets;
  • Property owned jointly or in common in equal shares between the spouses/partners;
  • All property owned by either spouse or partner immediately prior to the relationship if it was purchased in contemplation of the relationship and for the common use or common benefit of the relationship;
  • All property acquired by either partner after the relationship began;
  • The proportion of any life insurance policy of superannuation fund that is attributable to the relationship.

These are the general categories of property that will be up for equal division in the event a relationship ends.  There are some exceptions that apply, such as property purchased with inherited funds (so long as that property is kept separate), so if you are in doubt advice should be sought.

If you would like further 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.