LawWorks News

When Relationships Break Down - December 2012

It is a fact of life that for a variety of reasons our primary relationships may come to an end.
It is important that if property has been accumulated during the relationship that proper binding legal arrangements are put in place following separation. Lawyers are often accused of drawing out the process of resolving disputes for their own gain however many people simply have not considered the issues that are involved or are unaware of the legal requirements that must be followed to document a binding settlement. 

Even if both parties have agreed on how property is to be divided it is important to record the settlement  in a binding agreement under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976. Without an agreement being signed that complies with the formalities of section 21 of the Act any agreement is not binding and any "settlement” reached in reliance on an informal agreement is unlikely to be upheld at a later time. This can have very serious consequences for those that have relied on an informal agreement to make decisions. 

In recent years the number of family trusts established has increased enormously. Complex issues can arise concerning what should happen on separation to the assets held by such trusts and the rights of beneficiaries and trustees. There have been a number of significant cases from the courts in the last few years dealing with this issue and it is important that legal advice is taken on how these should be dealt with on separation. 

Other important matters that need to be considered on separation are of course arrangements for the care of children, child support and testamentary provisions.  

For more information contact George Ireland, partner,   on 303-9923 or george@lawworksnz.com 

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