Working-out what happened to income after your relationship has ended

March 16, 2017

in Family & Relationship Property

iStock_000017754761SmallWe recently wrote a piece about how income from employment during a relationship is relationship property, and that this is an aspect of the policy that the fruits of a shared life should be shared equally.

Well another aspect of NZ’s relationship property law is that it does not police what people do with property during the relationship.  It really is a means of forcing information to be provided, forcing an account of property, and providing remedies, after the end of the relationship.  That is why our system is sometimes called one of deferred relationship property.

In practical terms this means that your partner can do things that may be inconsistent with our relationship property law during the course of your relationship, and if you separate you are then faced with the task of working-out what they did and holding them to account for it.

A common issue is use of a partner’s income for separate property purposes, or for the purposes of a trust settled by the partner.

If you don’t actually know what your partner’s income is you won’t know whether it’s all coming to the relationship or not.  This is especially so if you maintain fully separate accounts.

Also, if your partner works in their own business (which may actually be owned by a trust) then their true income may be being retained to their credit in the business’ accounts.

Of course if you have a contracting-out/relationship property agreement in place, that agreement may affect your entitlement to income.

What all this means is that if you are separating or have separated and you have any inkling that what we have talked about here could be an issue you need advice on how to establish what has happened over time to ensure you get a fair result in settling relationship property matters with your ex/former partner or spouse.

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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