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31 August, 2016 | Smith and Partners
New Zealand law defines a de facto relationship as being between two persons (whatever their gender), who are both aged over 18 years old, who are not married to or in a civil union with each other and who live together as a couple.
The term “living together as a couple” encompasses many factors, not just how long you have been living together as a couple.
It is important to know whether or not you are in a de facto relationship as it determines how property (assets/liabilities) are to be divided in the event that the relationship ends (either by separation or death). Just because one of you owns an asset in your own name, does not necessarily mean that your partner does not have an interest in it (and therefore a claim to it).
If your relationship qualifies as a de facto relationship then anything that is “relationship property” will be subject to division according to the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 if the relationship ends.
A de facto relationship is typically defined as “a couple living together for three or more years”.
If you and your partner have a child together; this automatically qualifies your relationship as a de facto relationship despite the duration of your relationship.
Even if you have not been living together for three years, and don’t have children together, the Court can determine whether you and your partner live together as a couple, based on consideration of the following circumstances;
If you are in a de facto relationship, or if your relationship is heading in that direction, we strongly encourage you to enter into a Contracting Out Agreement. A Contracting Out Agreement can define:
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