By: Joshua Shaw
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.

The Law Commission is considering some big questions, including:
  • What relationships should the law apply to?
  • What property should be shared at the end of a relationship?
  • What should happen when equal sharing does not fix inequalities between the partners?
  • What should happen if trusts are involved?
  • How should the law recognise children's interests?
  • Does the law adequately allow for tikanga Māori?
  • What should happen when one partner in a relationship dies?

Under the PRA, marriages, civil unions and de facto relationships that last three years or longer will qualify for the general rule of equal sharing.

One specific issue that will be considered is the three year rule and whether this period should be longer for de facto relationships.  The Law Commission recognises the arguments in favour of a longer period, such as, de facto relationships have a different status to marriage and can take longer to "mature" into a relationship like a marriage.  If you have thoughts about this, or on the multitude of other issues covered in the review, we encourage you to make a submission.

Have your say

The Law Commission wants to know what you think about the PRA and whether reform is needed. There are a number of ways to give feedback.  To find out more, visit the consultation website  This is an interactive website inviting you to share your story and thoughts.  Submissions or comments are due by 7 February 2018.

The Law Commission will use the responses it receives to help draft its final report to the Government.

Our national Dispute Resolution Team is experienced in relationship property matters.  Please contact us if you have any issues you wish to discuss.
Download this article in PDF format
Share this page on social media:

Enter security code:
 Security code


Wynn Williams Client Toolkit

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with stylesheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so. The latest version of Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome will work best if you're after a new browser.