Ownership and division of relationship property is governed by the Property (Relationships) Act 1976
At any time prior to, or during your marriage, civil union or de facto relationship, you can make agreements about the status , ownership and division of relationship property. You can also make agreements about dividing property if the relationship ends or the other partner dies.
Relationship property is property that must be distributed between the parties when a relationship ends. Some examples of this include:
- The family home and chattels
- Any property acquired by either partner before the relationship, intended for the use or benefit of both partners
- Property owned jointly or in shares
- Property acquired by either spouse/partner during the relationship
- Income earned during the relationship
- Joint debts
Plus many more.
You and your partner can agree upon how relationship property will be divided, and if you can’t agree you can apply to the Family Court for a decision.
Under the Property (Relationships) Act the Court must consider the interests of any dependent children of the relationship.
Different rules apply to relationships depending on whether they have lasted for more or for less than 3 years.
You and your partner can make your own agreement about how you will manage the property during your relationship, and how you divide it should you break up. You can make this agreement at any time and is called a Contracting Out Agreement, (commonly known as a “prenup”). When such an agreement is made, the following must be complied with or the agreement may not be legally enforceable:
- It must be in writing and signed by both parties
- Each party must have taken independent legal advice before signing
- The signature of each party must be witnessed by a lawyer, who must certify that he or she has explained the effects and implications of the agreement to that party.
If you are asked to sign a Relationship Property Agreement which has been prepared by your partners lawyer, you should take it to a lawyer for advice. To be able to advise you properly, the lawyer will want to know from you details about the length of your relationship with your partner, the assets that you and your partner own, and the value of those assets. The lawyer will advise you regarding what you would be entitled to under the Property (Relationships) Act if a Court was required to decide so you are fully informed prior to you making a decision.
Should you be requiring assistance with a property settlement at the end of your relationship, thinking about a Contracting Out Agreement, or wanting any advice please give us a call – 09 267 2700 or contact us