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Relationship Property – What We Need to Certify Your Agreement

Lawyers have duties to their clients under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (“the Act”) when it comes to certifying Relationship Property Agreements.  These duties apply whether the client needs a Contracting Out Agreement (sometimes called a Pre-Nuptial Agreement) or a Separation Agreement. 

These duties exist to protect the parties.  As lawyers, we need to ensure that the parties fully appreciate the nature of the Agreement they are entering into, and what they would otherwise be entitled to under the Act.  This is part of what makes the Agreements binding and enforceable – something you definitely want if you are going to the trouble of getting an Agreement properly drawn up.

In saying that, Relationship Property Agreements can still be challenged and, on occasion, set aside.  One of the reasons an Agreement may be set aside is that the certifying lawyer did not collect all the relevant information from their client, and therefore could not have properly advised their client on the effects and implications of the Agreement.

To ensure that we have a complete picture of the assets and liabilities, we ask our clients to undertake a document gathering exercise.  We will generally request statements of the following:

  • Bank statements or internet banking demonstrating the current amounts held and, when drafting a Separation Agreement, the amounts held at the date of separation; 
  • Loans/borrowings/mortgages; 
  • KiwiSaver or superannuation funds; 
  • Student loan; 
  • Financial statements (if one or both parties have interests in a Trust and/or Company); 
  • Hire Purchase Agreements; and 
  • Other supporting information to show the ownership and value of property belonging to the parties (whether it is held jointly or not)

It is commonplace for lawyers to request these statements, and it is likely that the other party’s lawyer will request that we forward them on, in return for their client’s statements.  We will always ask your permission before providing them to the other party’s lawyer.

Relationship Property Assistance

We are able to assist with relationship property matters.  If you would like to discuss any aspect of Relationship Property Agreements, and/or ascertain whether you may need one, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Chantelle is a Solicitor in our Relationship Property Team and can be contacted on 07 958 7473.

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