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National Will Change Matrimonial Property Law

Tomorrow will be a significant day for 236,000 New Zealanders whom the Government is marrying against their will, National's Justice Spokesperson Wayne Mapp said today.

February 1 sees the Property (Relationships) Amendment Act 2001, which many New Zealanders oppose because it interferes with their property ownership rights, become law.

"People choose to get married, voluntarily accepting all the obligations that choice entails, including the sharing of property. The Government has run roughshod over the choice of couples who choose not to get married. Lawyers are telling me there have already been a number of couples separate because this legislation has caused them so much stress.

"Statistics show 75% of couples who don't marry separate within four years, but the Government's law will apply to all relationships lasting more than three years.

"National will change the law. In particular, we will change the three year qualifying period to five years so that only relationships where commitment has lasted will be covered," Dr Mapp said.

National will also review other aspects of the law, including:

* Unequal sharing based on a partner foregoing opportunities
* The over-riding of wills, especially where children are involved
* The confused law relating to the increasingly common situation of marriage and de facto relationships which cross over each other

"This law is a classic example of Labour's meddling approach to social engineering. There is a real issue about fairly dealing with long term de facto relationships, but Labour's Margaret Wilson cannot resist embarking on a radical approach to social engineering which ignores the choices that people have made in organising their lives," Dr Mapp said.


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