Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

A Fair Division Of Property When Relationships End

The Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson welcomes the return of the Property (Relationships) legislation to parliament.

The new Property (Relationships) legislation extends coverage to include not only people in marriages but also those in defacto (including same sex) relationships. This provides protection to a large group of people in defacto relationships who do not have the same protection as their married counterparts under the present law.

The bill was tabled this morning.

The new law focuses on the division of property upon the breakdown of relationships, rather than the nature of the relationship.

"The proposed new law is clear," said Ms Wilson. "It's about property. It's not about moral judgements on people's perfectly legal decisions about their relationships. The reform of this law is long overdue.

"A good law will reflect reality and apply the same principles in situations in which the same property issues exist. This is exactly what the select committee has proposed.

"Whether a relationship is a marriage or a defacto (including same-sex) relationship, the same approach will apply when the relationship breaks up. The only exception will be when the partners have contracted out of their legal rights.

"The legislation reduces discrimination between same-sex and mixed-sex defacto relationships " said Ms Wilson. "Same-sex defacto relationships are essentially the same in law as mixed-sex defacto relationships. It is therefore appropriate that the same arrangements exist for the division of property when relationships end.



"I also welcome the recommendation of the select committee that the words 'husband', 'wife', 'spouse' and 'marriage' be included in the bill. The new law is about property, and it was never the case that the status of married couples would change as a result of the new law. But the government is delighted to make that quite clear by using traditional language in the law," said Ms Wilson.

Couples will continue to have the right to contract out of the new legislation if they so wish. The select committee has recommended that a specimen agreement be prescribed by regulation to assist people to contract out. There is also a requirement to seek independent legal advice before signing a contracting out agreement.

"The inclusion of same-sex and defacto relationships will be taken on a conscience vote," said Ms Wilson.

"The select committee, chaired by Tim Barnett, has done an excellent job. Everyone has the opportunity to look at this proposed new law in a dispassionate way. I commend the majority of the committee for the careful explanations of its decisions. The legislation allows a 12 months lead in time before it comes fully into effect.

"The law is sensible, fair, liberal and humane. It provides for the equitable, simple and speedy resolution of relationship property matters.

"It recognises individuals' rights to make their own arrangements to deal with the possible consequences of a relationship ending, but establishes a fair and basic standard which will apply in other cases," said Ms Wilson.

ENDS

Main points about the Bill as reported back

There are three pieces of legislation brought together and developed in the supplementary order paper reported back by the select committee. They are:

1. The Matrimonial Property Act 1976

2. The Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill introduced on 24 March 1998 and reported back on 15 September 1999 and considered by the House on 29 February 2000

3. The Defacto (Relationships) Property Bill introduced in 1998 to extend the law to include defacto relationships

These were originally brought together and developed in the Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) introduced by the Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson on 16 May 2000 and referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee on 1 June 2000 along with the Bill.

The main proposals of the original SOP (and remaining in the legislation as reported back)

 The name of the law is changed to the "Property (Relationships) Act". Because the Bill proposes amendments to the existing law, the new law will be called the "Property (Relationships) Act 1976

 The law is extended to apply to defacto partners (including same-sex partners) who have lived in the defacto relationship for at least three years

 There is a single rule under which all relationship property is to be divided equally except in extraordinary circumstances

 If the actions of one partner directly or indirectly increase the value of separate property held by the other, the increase in value is classed as relationship property

 There are two provisions to deal with economic disparity.

1. The first empowers the court to award a lump-sum payment from relationship property where there are likely to be significant future differences in income and living standards between the partners (for example because one partner worked in a job and the other worked at home caring for children)

2. The second provision allows the court to award lump sum payments from any increase in the value of separate property arising from the actions of the owner during the relationship

 The Family Proceedings Act 1980 (spousal maintenance), the Administration Act 1969 and the Family Protection Act (1955) (wills and disposal of estates) are extended to cover defacto partners

The main changes made by the select committee

 "Defacto relationship" is defined

 A statement of purpose and a set of guiding principles is included

 A reference to the interests of children is inserted in the purpose section

 The words "spouse" "husband" "wife" and "marriage" "de facto" and "de facto partner" and "de facto relationship" are used (the original SOP had used the general category "partners"

 A minimum age of 18 years is established for partners to de facto relationships (i.e. a defacto relationship does not begin for the purposes of the Act until both partners are 18)

 The law comes into force on 1 February 2002, except for the contracting out provisions which apply from August 2001

 A specimen agreement for contracting out can be prescribed by regulation


Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

SCOOP COVERAGE: CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES TERROR ATTACK


Emission Statement: 'Consensus Reached' On Agriculture

Today the Government launched a consultation document, informed by the work of the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC), on how to bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme, a key part of the Government’s plan to tackle climate change and reduce New Zealand’s emissions.

Agricultural emissions make up nearly half of New Zealand’s total emissions profile and are the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand. More>>

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On What’s Wrong With Wellington

For many Wellingtonians, it hasn’t been the normal hardships – the workings of central government and the lousy weather – that have recently pushed their tolerance into the red zone. It has been the inability of local government to maintain even the basics. More>>

ALSO:

$1m Compensation Paid: First Gun Ban Event In Christchurch

The Police Minister says the first ever firearms collection event in Christchurch over the weekend was a huge success. But Stuart Nash had concerns about whether the participation reflected the number of weapons in the region. More>>

ALSO:

The Kids: Youth Parliament 2019 Event Kicks Off

120 Youth MPs and 20 Youth Press Gallery members have gathered in Wellington to attend the two-day Youth Parliament event ... More>>

Friends Like These: Foreign Minister To Visit USA

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will travel to Washington D.C. today for talks with senior members of the US Administration, and to attend the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Aussie Banks’ Latest Fee Hike Excuse

When the Reserve Bank sought feedback on its plans to require the country’s major banks to raise their capital reserves then you might have expected the banks to whine and complain. And so they have. More>>

ALSO:

Sitting On Defence: Terms Of Reference For Defence Estate Review

“The 81,000 hectare Defence estate is at a crossroads; much of it is run down, and outdated,” says Ron Mark. “It needs to be improved in order to gain, train and retain our service people, now and into the future." More>>

ALSO:

Meng Foon: Retiring Gisborne Mayor To Be Race Relations Commissioner

Andrew Little: “He has an outstanding record as a relationship builder and walks comfortably in the pākehā world, the Māori world, the Chinese community and other communities making up New Zealand." More>>

ALSO:

NCEA: Students Granted Qualifications After Fees Scrapped

Almost 150,000 current and former students with unpaid NCEA fees have today been formally awarded their NCEA credits or qualifications. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels