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The law around relationship property applies in the same way to same-sex couples as it does for heterosexual couples. Simply put, if you break up after three years of being together in a committed relationship, you could be asked to split your stuff 50:50.
While the law states that you should be “living together as a de facto couple” for three years, these words can be misleading. Cases suggest that if you’re in a committed relationship and appear as a couple to the outside world, then you don’t have to be living under the same roof to be considered a de facto couple. This means that if you are committed to living a life together (despite distance), then you might have to divvy up your property if that relationship ends! If you’re married, you are automatically covered by relationship property law, even if you haven’t been together for three years.
What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine?
Not quite! Basically, anything you have that can be considered to be relationship property is split down the middle if you were to split from your partner/spouse. We’ve already published a super blog about nifty agreements called Contracting Out Agreements which you can read here. These agreements allow you to have a say about how your property is split upon separation, and are something we highly recommend that you get amongst, especially if one of you came into the relationship with a lot more assets than the other, or if you own property that you don’t want to ‘risk’ a claim being made against in the future.
What’s relationship property?
Relationship property means any home, chattels or other property purchased while in the relationship for the “common benefit” of both of you. Everything that you’ve bought or used through the course of your relationship might be at risk of being divided including: property, vehicles, KiwiSaver and investments.
What’s separate property?
Any property wholly owned by you before the relationship is separate property. However, this isn’t always as simple as it seems. If the property was used for the “common benefit” of you and your partner/spouse – such as use as a family bach or family home, then it would be considered relationship property, even though you owned it before you got together! This can sometimes be stretched even further. For instance, if you have a rental property and the income from that rental goes into a joint account – bingo! Relationship property!
Disclaimer: The information on this page is general information only and must not be relied on as legal advice. Legal Beagle is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm. We are unable to provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defences, options, selection of legal documents or strategies.
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