Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Nandor Tanczos: Breaking Up Just Got Easier

Why The Greens Support The Property Relationships Bill

It's an exciting time - finally getting together with someone you're really into. You spend weeks in bed together getting to know each other well, sharing your secrets and dreams.

But even once you're an established couple, while it's still great to talk about sex - it can be hard to talk about the money.

Like most people you probably assume that if you break up you get half the stuff you bought together. But you are wrong. Under current law de facto partners are not automatically entitled to a share of relationship property.

The Property (Relationships) Bill - now being debated in the House - is going to change that. The bill is about creating fairness and consistency when people break up - whether they were married, de facto, single sex or same sex.

The Green Party supports this bill. People have a heap of different relationships these days. This bill recognises that. It is not about whether some relationships are better than others. It is about what happens to the property when it ends.

Most of the time people are reasonable enough and agree on what's fair. But people being what they are, we sometimes need an arbitrator of last resort to help resolve disagreements.

Recently there have been more and more cases going to Court after the breakdown of a de facto relationship. The Courts have taken a number of approaches to these disputes, each of which present their own set of problems.

Courts have looked to see what the intention of the parties were, but have found these intentions difficult to identify. Courts have also looked to the reasonable expectations of the parties involved. They have found it hard to say whether it is 'reasonable' to expect a share in property if one side says they will not give the other side anything.

The Principal Family Court Judge in his submission to the Select Committee said that "the limited and uneven remedies available... together with the growing number of de facto relationships are reasons why Parliament should legislate".

The bill simplifies all this. It says that when a de facto relationship of over three years duration comes to an end, the same rules that apply to married couples will also apply.

It recognises the non-financial contributions that people make as well as just the monetary ones and says that where one partner has sacrificed a career and earnings potential to raise a family and support their partner through education, that person can get a lump sum payment to compensate them.

It also says that an exception can be made to the principle of an equal division of property if it would be "repugnant to justice".

Property that you own before the relationship will remain your separate property and is excluded from division.

The exception is if you own a house and you both live in it. Then it is deemed the family home and is subject to equal sharing. If you don't want that to happen you can make an agreement, as I will explain below.

This bill will only affect de facto relationships of three years or more. This is a fair amount of time and does indicate that a serious relationship exists.

National and ACT have been trying to say this will apply to students who flat together and have sex occasionally. Firstly, this is not true when you look at how a de facto relationship is defined. Secondly, even if it was, who is going to go to court over a sofa? The law is only an issue when significant property, like a house or a car, is involved.

What's more, as I said, if you don't want to share equally you can opt out by signing a contract. While each partner needs independent legal advice for it to hold, the bill provides for a kind of blueprint agreement that will mean most contracts are very cheap or even free, if done through community law centres and Citizens Advice Bureaux. This agreement can be entered into at any time during the relationship.

Some people have said that the bill devalues the sanctity of marriage. I would say that sanctity is not derived from Parliament - a less sacred place being difficult to imagine! Sanctity is from another source entirely.

The bill does not "marry" de facto couples. The bill makes no difference to the legal status of marriage. That is defined in the Marriage Act and this bill does not affect that.

Married couples will be covered by the Marriage Act and their own vows. The bill does give extra protection for them because the equal property sharing regime applies from the first day of the marriage, not after three years as in the case of de facto relationships.

Basically, once you get past all the bollocks, I just think that a law that says that if you break up you should divide your stuff evenly, unless there are good reasons for not doing that or unless you have already agreed to do something else, is pretty basic justice.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news