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New website on Relationship Bill

New website on Relationship bill

Do you know anyone living in a de facto relationship?

Well, they are getting married on the 1st of July next year!

You didn't know? Well, neither do they! That's because the Government is changing the rules. Check out the website: http://www.fairsplit.org.nz

By extending the Matrimonial Property Act to de facto couples, 118,119 people in NZ will effectively become financially married on 1 July next year.

You may not have heard much about this because the Government tried to pass this into law without any public consultation. Fortunately, the Opposition parties forced the Government to send the proposals to a select committee. Hearings are now underway. But the Government has cut the usual six month submission period down to three!

There's a lot of unanswered questions which Judges will end up deciding in costly and long court battles: what defines a de facto relationship? When did it begin? What property was involved? What if a couple deliberately decided not to get married?

But marrying de facto couples against their will is just one of the problem areas in Professor Wilson's proposals.

National is most concerned about changes which will force women - in particular - into costly and nasty court battles when relationships break up.

The Government wants to give judges wide and sweeping discretion to change the 50/50 split rule.

This will undermine the certainty given women by the Matrimonial Property Act in 1976. Before then women had to go and fight long and expensive court battles to get a fair share of the matrimonial property.

But that 1976 Act stopped that. In fact, only 10% of break-ups make it to court these days. That's because the rules are so certain and clear that no court battles are needed.

Some experts think the Government's plan will see 90% of cases end up in Court. These changes will drive women into already clogged courtrooms, where disputes go on for years. We agree with the Law Commission and the Ministry of Women's Affairs: family issues are best settled outside the court process.

Many men use the court process to punish their wives. They usually have more money and can better afford lawyers to fight longer court battles. In the end, any legal aid comes out of a woman's settlement, meaning she is worse off if the court battle goes on.

Unfortunately, all the haste means we'll end up with impractical and hurriedly drafted legislation. It will lead to a mess for many couples... married and de facto.

Let the Select Committee and the Government know what you think. Check out the website: www.fairsplit.org.nz


Number of de facto couples as per 1996 Census: Northland - 4,581 Auckland - 35,816 Waikato - 11,472 Bay of Plenty - 7,773 Gisborne - 1,493 Hawke's Bay - 4,395 Taranaki - 3,173 Manawatu-Wanganui - 7,160 Wellington - 14,862 Tasman - 1,253 Nelson - 1,503 Marlborough - 1,121 West Coast - 1,173 Canterbury - 14,691 Otago - 5,379 Southland - 2,319 NZ total - 118,199

*#**#**#**#**#**#**#**#*#**#**#**#* Annabel Young MP Opposition Spokesperson for Revenue Visit the National Party Tax Think Tank at http://www.tax.org.nz Send me an e-mail if you want to be added to my tax e-mail database


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