Relationship Property and Separation

Since February 2002 the property rights of both married and de facto couples (where the de facto relationship and/or marriage has lasted three years) have been governed by the same equal sharing rules in the Property (Relationships) Act.

Today it is common for couples to make an Agreement defining "who owns what".  This is particularly so when entering a second relationship - often with children from an earlier relationship.  Both parties try to balance their obligations to a new partner/spouse with their obligations to their own children.   In some situations a family trust can be a useful tool to achieve a desired goal.

Unfortunately when couples split there can be disputes about how assets and liabilities should be shared (this is much less likely where an Agreement was in place earlier).  We always look first for an amicable settlement and have the necessary negotiation and mediation skills to achieve this outcome on most occasions.  However protecting the interests of our client sometimes requires court proceedings and we are well equipped to go head to head when required.

Our family law team has extensive experience in all aspects of family and relationship law, bringing a confidential, sensitive and professional approach to what is often an emotional area.

We can assist with:

  • Relationship property agreements (matrimonial and de facto agreements)
  • Relationship property disputes (including complex situations involving businesses, farms or trusts)
  • Pre-marital (or pre-nuptial) agreements
  • Co-habitation contracts
  • Family trusts
  • Separation / dissolution of marriage
  • Matrimonial litigation 
  • Injunctions to prevent removal of assets overseas

We have a very strong relationship property team led by Gerard DeCourcy   The team has wide experience in all aspects of family law and have the advantage of very strong commercial credentials making them unusually qualified to handle complex relationship property disputes involving companies, trusts and substantial assets.  

Gerard De Courcy  

Downie Stewart Lawyers Dunedin 8th Level, 265 Princes St, Dunedin, 9016 03-477 2263
PO Box 1345, Dunedin 9054 |  Fax: 03 477 4021  |  E: