Our Team
  • Relationship Property
  • Contracting Out agreements (“pre-nups”)
  • Separated parenting and guardianship issues
  • Separated parents relocating with a child
  • Domestic Violence/Safety Issues
  • Estate Litigation (Law Reform, Testamentary Promises Act, Family Protection Act)
  • Child Support/Spouse Maintenance
  • The Protection of Property and Personal Rights Act 1998 (PPPR)
Fiona Mackenzie 2017
Kathy 2017
Clare Murphy 2017
John Wayne 2017
Robyn Ingram 2017

Relationship property law has the potential to have an impact not only on your relationship, but also on your business. When a relationship breaks down, so too does the trust that exists between the two parties and it is rarely possible to shield the day-to-day business activities from the effects. Protect your assets. Talk to one of our family law specialists today: Fiona Mackenzie and Clare Murphy


Are you getting married or in a ‘de facto’ relationship?

A Contracting Out Agreement (a.k.a. Pre-nuptial Agreement) is a sensible way to
protect your assets. Not because you envisage your marriage ending, but because relationships and families take so many varied forms these days and there are often children from previous partnerships.

If you don’t have anything in place and your relationship comes to an end, the
division of assets will automatically fall under standard New Zealand Property Law.

This could result in a situation that is not what you want. A Contracting Out Agreement can avoid this happening. We can get the paperwork in order for you quickly and painlessly and then you can relax, knowing everything is just as you want it.

Are you unmarried? Unfortunately, people are still handing over half their assets
because they don’t understand what a ‘de facto’ relationship is in the eyes of the

Other things to think about while you’re addressing relationship property – It’s a good time to consider your Will, a trust, and Enduring Power of Attorney.

Should I have a pre-nuptial agreement?

It’s a good idea to consider whether you want to opt out of the usual equal sharing
principles that apply to relationship property under New Zealand law. It may be that
you’re happy for these to apply, but you might decide that you’d prefer to tailor the
arrangements to suit your particular situation.

If so, we will help you set up a ‘Contracting Out Agreement’.

These agreements are very common with couples who are entering a second or
subsequent relationship later in life, particularly when there is substantial property
that they want to keep separate. They’re also common when assets are held in a family trust as they can help to ensure issues of relationship property are dealt with as intended by those who established the trust.

Is your Will current?

Although it’s not nice to think about, the truth is that one day in the future none of us
will be here. The question is, what happens to the people you leave behind; your
children, your family, your loved ones?

A formal Will makes your wishes clear about what happens to your possessions after
you’re gone. If you don’t have one the law will address the situation on your behalf
and the outcome may not be what you want.

Don’t leave it to chance. Contact us now and make sure things will be left as you
want them.

Do you have concerns about your safety? Do you have concerns for your safety and the safety of your children from a partner, or from a person you share or have shared a household with? You may have been or are in a close personal relationship with a person compromising your safety. It may be physical, sexual or psychological abuse that is being directed towards you that you are concerned about.

You may wish to apply for a protection order to protect you and your children, along with other remedies to protect you such as occupation and furniture orders.

Alternatively, you may have received a copy of a protection order against you and require legal assistance. Often applications to the Court are made urgently without the other person being notified of the application first.

If there has been a protection order made against you, your freedom to have contact or care with your children will be affected. You will be required by the Court to satisfy it that the children will be safe in your care. If you cannot satisfy the Court then your contact with the children will remain supervised.

Please contact our family law specialists Fiona Mackenzie and Clare Murphy

If I am separated, can I move to another place and take my child with me?
Relocation is a difficult area of law in New Zealand. While you personally cannot be prevented from moving, you may not automatically take your child with you as this is a matter to be decided between guardians. If there is no agreement and competing care options between a child’s parents, then the Court will be required to determine what the care arrangements will be, assessed according to the child’s welfare and best interests.

The outcome of this determination in turn may cause a relocation decision by a parent to be rejected by the Family Court.

The Hague Convention
Associated with matters of international relocation is the Hague Convention, an instrument to which New Zealand has acceded and which provides that a decision with respect to the care arrangements for a child must be determined within the jurisdiction of the country where a child was “habitually resident”. This may mean the distress of a forced return to enable the decision to be made, where a parent has unilaterally relocated a child without the consent of one parent or the approval of the Court.

Fiona Mackenzie accepts appointments from New Zealand’s Central Authority with Hague Convention matters. Talk to her and her team about the application of the Hague Convention to your situation.