Income is relationship property

February 22, 2017

in Family & Relationship Property

iStock_000019279036_SmallA feature of NZ’s relationship property law is the policy that the fruits of a shared life should be shared equally.

One of the consequences of this is that each partner’s income from work during the relationship is relationship property.  If you both work in paid employment, both incomes are relationship property.  If one works in paid employment and the other does something else, that one income from paid employment is still relationship property.

We should note here that ‘paid employment’ includes self-employment.  A self-employed person will have their income looked at for relationship property purposes, and if they have used one of the common means of avoiding having income there will be ways to bring them to account nonetheless.

One of the follow on consequences of this is that if you’re using your income to pay down debt on property that was acquired before the relationship (whether in trust or not) you’re applying relationship property to do it.  This leaves you vulnerable to having the equity generated by the application of your income during your relationship split with your partner/spouse if you separate.

There are steps that you can take to guard against this consequence, as the Property (Relationships) Act allows for contracting out.  Care does need to be taken to ensure that your contracting-out agreement is not so unbalanced that it becomes unenforceable, but that should not keep you from looking to protect yourself for the future.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co. who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Wallace Revell
09 379 0055 or 03 477 8870


The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain. 

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