Separation & Dissolution (Divorce)

Divorce and separation are traumatic events for the entire family and the highly emotional nature of these circumstances requires the compassionate, but clearheaded expert legal advice you will receive from the experienced team at McVeagh Fleming.

Divorce and Marriage Dissolution

An application for an order dissolving marriage (commonly known as a divorce) can be made after two years of separation. Applications for a dissolution of marriage can be brought by either one spouse alone or by both spouses jointly. We can advise on the practicalities of each option and prepare and submit the necessary application to the Family Court on your behalf.


Separating from a spousal partner is a difficult process. Many clients who come to see us are not sure they wish to separate. We can offer advice about counselling through the Family Court, a service that many clients find invaluable. If separation proceeds, we can advise on the division of assets under the Property (Relationships) Act, on the care of children, and, if appropriate, on the dissolution of your marriage.

Section 21 Agreement

Section 21 Agreements can be made at any time. Sometimes called Relationship Property Agreements or 'Pre-Nuptial Agreements', Contracting Out Agreements are used when couples entering into a relationship want to make certain assets, such as those acquired through inheritance, are protected in the event of a separation. The team at McVeagh Fleming understand the sensitive nature of Section 21 Agreements. The team is here to advise you on all aspects with discretion, giving you clear, pragmatic advice and a sound outcome.

Spousal Maintenance

Upon separation, spousal maintenance may be available to a spouse or partner who cannot support themselves due to the roles during the relationship. Spousal maintenance issues are often resolved at the same time as those relating to the care of children and relationship property. They can take the form of payment for the interim, past and future needs of the spouse or partner. We can advise the likelihood of a successful application for maintenance on the duration for which the maintenance will be payable and the possible quantum of the payment.


Parties who separate sometimes wish to move away from their current home, whether within New Zealand or overseas. This can be for various reasons, such as work opportunities and extended family support.

Understandably a proposed relocation is often opposed by the parent who remains in their current locality. Relocation can be a lengthy and complicated process. Under the Care of Children Act, the child's best interests are paramount, usually meaning the child has contact regularly with both parents. We can advise on the prospects of success should an application for relocation be desired. We can also advise on the availability of an Order Preventing Removal of a child if there are concerns that a child will be taken overseas and not returned to New Zealand.

Recent Insights

September 2021

What are my Options if I Wish to Separate From my Partner During Alert Level 4 Lockdown?

The combination of isolating within one bubble along with additional financial stress, changes to childcare and working from home can bring personal relationships closer or unfortunately, push them apart. Breakdowns in personal relationships can add an additional layer of stress to an already difficult situation. However, it is important to remember that help is available.
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March 2021

Is There Such a Thing as a Conflict Free Separation?

A separation doesn't have to be fraught with conflict, including when Lawyers are involved. If you have recently separated and need some assistance with resolving a dispute involving property and/or children you may want to consider doing so under the framework of Collaborative Advocacy.
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July 2020

Is Your Overseas 'Pre-Nup' Valid in New Zealand?

If you or someone you know has signed a Prenuptial Agreement, Premarital Agreement, Antenuptial Contract or Contracting Out Agreement in a country outside of New Zealand, then you/ they should find out if and how that Agreement applies in New Zealand. Irrespective of where these types of documents are signed, they generally have a similar purpose; that being to determine the status, ownership and value of assets at the start and end of a couple's relationship. But, are they valid when you have moved away from the country of signing?
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