This article was written by Fleur McDonald.
A relationship later in life can put a welcome bounce back in your step but before you step into a potential legal quagmire, there are some important matters you should give serious consideration to.
Under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, a qualifying de facto relationship is defined as being a relationship of three years or more. There are various factors that will determine whether you are in a relationship or not. You should be aware that actually living together and physical intimacy may not be necessary to qualify your relationship under the Act.
If your relationship does qualify under the Act, the start point for the sharing of relationship assets is 50 / 50. That may not be what either of you want or intend so it may be worthwhile for you and your partner to consider entering into a written agreement to determine how assets will be dealt with should your relationship end.
This is something you should discuss together in the early stages of your relationship so both parties understand and agree on what will happen should the worst come to pass.
In New Zealand, these written agreements are called Contracting Out Agreements (the “Agreement”) and must be drafted and executed with assistance from your lawyer. You and your partner must see and be advised by different lawyers. This ensures that both parties get sound advice and understand exactly what is contained in the Agreement before you sign it.
An Agreement will also ensure that there is no misunderstanding on what you both want to happen after you die. You should be aware however, that you may need to update your Will so that the terms and conditions of your Agreement are reflected in your Will.
As with all areas of law, it is important that you seek good advice from a team who understand how this area of law may impact on you and your legal requirements. At Harmans we have experience dealing with Contracting Out Agreements and family law. Give Phillipa Shaw a call on 03 352 2293 to arrange an appointment with a member of our Family Law Team to discuss your needs.