Relationship Property & Family Law
Representation without compromise
Whether you’re planning for the future - or need to resolve a current relationship matter - our specialist team is ready to help.

Whatever your circumstances, Wynn Williams is experienced in all facets of matrimonial, relationship and family law.
If you’re involved in a family dispute, we can guide you through this difficult time. We will provide you with sound strategies and solutions-focused advice.
We can also assist you with prudent strategic planning in the areas of trusts, wills, asset ownership and valuation.

Relationship Property
If you’re in a relationship – whether marriage, civil union, or a de facto relationship – it’s important to understand how your property is owned. Our team can help you structure your property ownership in a way that’s fair, transparent and robust. And if your relationship is about to change or end, we can advise you on separation and property settlements, including your options in litigation.

Family Protection & Care of Children
Our caring and experienced Family Law specialists can explain the options available in the law regarding the care of children. This includes custody, access and guardianship applications; child support; adoption; and national/international relocation cases. We can also assist with domestic protection applications.

Estate Planning
Wynn Williams advises clients on all aspects of trusts, wills and estates. Together, we can work out a strategy that will provide for your family’s needs, both now and in the future, and achieve the outcomes you’re looking for.

Estate Litigation
Are you faced with a dispute regarding family property or an estate? We can assist with family protection claims, testamentary promises, and disputes as to the validity of wills (such as mental incapacity or duress).


Recent Projects

  • Advising clients on relationship property agreements at the beginning and end of relationships.
  • Guiding clients involved in separations to deal with division of relationship property and trust.
  • Acting in the High Court on a major relationship property appeal involving property exceeding $28 million and complex business and trust arrangements.
  • Counsel in various courts, including Court of Appeal, for mother on leading New Zealand case over her relocation with children to her country of birth.
  • Mediation for Family Court in relationship property litigation.



Does the Property (Relationships) Act apply to polyamorous relationships?

A recent case from the Auckland High Court has raised a novel new issue: whether the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (“PRA”) applies to a “polyamorous relationship”? A polyamorous relationship is where a relationship exists between more than two people, which is consented to by the parties involved.

Keep reading...


COVID-19 Bubble trouble

New Zealanders are having to quickly adjust to a new normal as we face the COVID-19 crisis and the introduction of “alert levels” which greatly restrict the way we live. “Bubble” is a term coined by our Prime Minister to describe the group of people who make up a household. For the four weeks (at least), we are all under strict orders to stay in our bubble and stay home. This drastic change to our way of living is guaranteed to bring about new challenges.

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Valuations and COVID-19: The effect of a global pandemic on relationship property divisions

Separation and the division of relationship property is a stressful and uncertain process under normal circumstances. This will only be exacerbated during a global pandemic.

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COVID-19 What does the lockdown mean for shared care arrangements?

Following the Government’s announcement that New Zealand is moving to a nationwide lockdown for at least four weeks, naturally there has been some uncertainty for families as to what this means for shared care arrangements.

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Prenups – not just for the rich and famous

A prenup, or to use its technical term “Contracting Out Agreement”, may be one of the most important documents you’ll ever sign. Approximately 10 per cent of couples have them, and they are becoming increasingly popular.

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Review of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976

The Law Commission is reviewing the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (Act). As part of its review, the Law Commission has recently released their preferred approach for changes to the Act.

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Family Protection Act: (un)enforceable contracting out provisions

The situation is seen all too often. In contemplation of spousal separation, or in preparation for death, individuals and members of their immediate family will often enter into inter vivos deeds of separation or deeds of family arrangement. The purpose for entering into these deeds often involves managing sensitive interfamilial relationships.

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Relationship property reform – have your say

The Law Commission is reviewing the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (PRA). Since 1976, New Zealand society has changed dramatically. The way people enter and leave relationships has evolved. The value that people place on marriages has changed and New Zealand is now more ethnically diverse.

Keep reading...


Property ownership – joint tenants or tenants in common?

There are two forms of ownership that can be registered on a Certificate of Title when you are purchasing land. These terms have specific meanings, which is very important in structuring how your property is actually owned.

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Family Protection Act 1955 Article

Will my Will be done - or undone?  How can we ensure that when our clients execute a Will, that their wishes are carried out?

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Wealth and the Property (Relationships) Act 1976

Since 1976 with marriages, and since 2002 with de facto relationships, Parliament has tried to give effect to the philosophy that these relationships are a partnership.   Both parties contribute in different ways.  All contributions in the end should be treated as being of equal value.  When a relationship ends, the wealth acquired through that relationship should be shared equally.

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Relationship Property and Trusts

The thinking behind the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 ("the Act") is that marriages and de facto relationships of more than three years are a partnership.  Partners in the normal course of events contribute equally, often in different ways.  Economic contributions are not to be valued higher than non-financial contributions.  As a result it is the policy of this legislation that the wealth accumulated in the relationship should be shared equally when the relationship ends, whether it be through separation or through the death of one of the partners.

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Relationship Property Settlements Involving Trusts

Introduction New Zealand has a very large number of "domestic" trusts . Putting into trusts things like "family homes", holiday homes, business shares, and investments which would otherwise be Relationship Property is very common. Unfortunately, a trust can mean problems for a party wanting to enforce their rights after a relationship break down. To see why this is we'll look at some key trust concepts and then look at some of the problems. Then we'll move on to talk about some specific points on doing a settlement deal involving a trust.

Keep reading...

Reported Decisions

  • Penny v Penny [2006] NZFLR 477
  • P v P [2005] NZFLR 689
  • Penny v Penny (No 4) [2005] 25 FRNZ 320
  • AB v CD [2011] NZFLR 529; (2011) 25 NZTC 20-028 (2011) 28 FRNZ 700
  • N v H [2010] NZFLR 463
  • T v H (2006) 26 FRNZ 282
  • MHL v DJRL [2006] NZFLR 174
  • Q v B [2005] NZFLR 337
  • D v S [2003] NZFLR 81
  • S v D [2002] NZFLR 865
  • D v S [2002] NZFLR 116
  • D v S (2001) 21 FRNZ 331
  • D v D [2001] NZFLR 613, (2001) 20 FRNZ 392
  • Drew v Drew [1997] NZFLR 491, (1997) FRNZ 668
  • Ewing v Ewing (1993) 10 FRNZ 245
  • Ewing v Ewing (1991) 8 FRNZ 308
  • Gough v Gough (1987) 3 FRNZ 200
  • Lyon v Wilcox [1994] 3 NZLR 422, (1994) 12 FRNZ 101
  • Ewing v Ewing (1993) 11 FRNZ 364
  • Wilcox v Lyon (1993) 11 FRNZ 1

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Wynn Williams Christchurch
Level 5, Wynn Williams House, 47 Hereford Street, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand.
PO Box 4341, DX WX11179, Christchurch 8140.
+64 3 379 7622
+64 3 379 2467
Wynn Williams Auckland
Level 25, Vero Centre, 48 Shortland Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.
PO Box 2401, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.
+64 9 300 2600
+64 9 300 2609

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