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Submissioners say forget fiddling with the 50/50

Tony Ryall
National Justice Spokesman
Anne Tolley
National Womens Affairs Spokesperson

19 July 2000

Submissioners say forget fiddling with the 50/50 split

The Attorney General should take note of what some of the most experienced family lawyers in New Zealand are saying - forget about playing with the 50/50 split rule and instead focus on National's preferred alternative of spousal maintenance, say National's Tony Ryall and Anne Tolley.

The Justice and Law Reform Select Committee yesterday heard public submissions in Wellington on the Government's proposed changes to the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill. The hearing continues in Auckland today.

"The economic disparity that can occur when a relationship breaks down must be addressed but giving lawyers an open invitation to 'have a go' in court is not the way to go.

"The 50/50 split rule divides property on an equal basis but in some cases can be unfair to one of the spouses. However, the majority of submissioners are really concerned about throwing division of property open to the courts to decide on a case by case basis.

"The Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society told us that fiddling with the 50/50 split rule will create too much uncertainty and the Government should instead focus on spousal maintenance provisions.

"Practitioners said the proposed legislation will force litigation, create huge uncertainty and that it will take years to build case law. Instead of increased judicial discretion there should be clear guidelines and definitions.

"It is astounding that Professor Wilson was not even going to give these groups a chance to have their say on what has been described as radical legislation that will have a huge impact on the lives of New Zealanders," Mr Ryall and Mrs Tolley said.


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