Family Law & Relationship Property

Navigating the sensitive areas of family and relationship law? Family law requires a raft of unique skills and a compassionate approach.

McVeagh Fleming is expert at communicating the best options during these challenging, often stressful times. We take time to listen to understand your situation and offer the most appropriate, cost-effective advice. We know you need practical advice that is suitable for you. We're committed to providing the support and guidance you and your family need.

Family Law

McVeagh Fleming Family Law is uniquely placed to provide you with comprehensive legal advice on all aspects of family law. Not only do you get access to lawyers who specialise in the family law area, but you also have access to specialists in all other areas of the law. Given that many family issues overlap with other areas of the law, this puts our clients at a significant advantage.

While we remain one of the few larger private firms that have retained a family law practice, our clients receive the personal service that is important to a successful family lawyer/client relationship. We offer empathetic, timely and practical advice based on a sound knowledge of the law and effective drafting and advocacy skills.

Paternity Lawyers

Determining the paternity of a child has implications in many areas such as day-to-day care and contact, guardianship and child support.

It is generally viewed as being in the best interests of a child that they know who both of their parents are. We can advise on applying to the Family Court for a Paternity Order, prepare the necessary documents for filing in the Court and guide clients through the Court process.

Relationship Property

McVeagh Fleming have specialist relationship property lawyers to help you with your marital property issues. Expertise includes:

  • Division of property            
  • Property sharing agreements            
  • Asset planning and creditor protection
  • Separation agreements            
  • Section 21 agreements            
  • Relationship property claims against trusts.

The firm's experience is that many clients are confused about their relationship property entitlements under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (Act). Although this Act has been in force since 1976, many grey areas require careful consideration and analysis by lawyers who have experience and expertise in this field. The relationship property umbrella encompasses two different concepts:

1. Dividing property upon separation; and

2. Protecting property at the beginning of a relationship.

Dividing Relationship Property Upon Separation

Separation can be difficult enough for couples emotionally without the added complication of dividing assets and working through care issues for their children.

The Act has been described as a 'minefield', and it is undoubtedly the case that the provisions of the Act need to be worked through with a great deal of care.

Contracting Out Agreements

Under the Act, many assets which were the separate property of one party will become relationship property, and therefore be equally divisible between the parties upon separation, where the parties have been in a relationship for three years or more.

By entering into a Contracting Out Agreement (or "pre-nuptial agreement") or a Section 21 Agreement, couples can earmark those items of property that they wish to retain as their separate property.

A Contracting Out Agreement can also deal with future earnings and the acquisition of property in the future. It can also provide a formula for property division should a relationship end. Contracting Out Agreements are popular with clients who bring significant assets into a relationship they wish to have preserved as their separate property – Protection of the Personal and Property Rights Act 1988.

Recent Insights

November 2023

The importance of Prenuptial Agreements has increased

Protecting assets has become an integral aspect of modern relationships, with the growing importance of prenuptial agreements for safeguarding individual interests. In June 2023, the New Zealand Supreme Court issued a significant ruling in the case of Sutton v Bell, which centered on Sections 44 and 26 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 ("PRA"). This decision marks a pivotal shift in the interpretation of key legal provisions governing property rights in relationships.
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August 2023

Mediating Trust Disputes

Countless families across New Zealand place their most valuable assets, such as their property, into a discretionary family trust. However, when a couple separate and each party is a trustee to the same family trust, conflict and disagreement will often arise as to the management and enjoyment of trust assets. Disagreements on internal trust matters have the possibility of turning into time-consuming, expensive and public proceedings in court. Mediation is an alternative solution for settling trust disputes and may be a more advantageous option for parties.
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August 2023

Separation - What's in a date?

When was it over? When to call it quits? When did you say goodbye? Am I separated? What's in a date? In the midst of a relationship breakdown, when you and your former partner are separated is not often a front-of-mind question. However, your separation date can be important information in family law proceedings.
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