Legal Updates

Demystifying Separation - What Do I Need To Know? 


Attitudes towards romantic relationships has been continually evolving – within that evolution, the permanency of relationships assumed to be cemented by entering a marriage or civil union has waned. Many people at some point decide to separate or have multiple long-term relationships during their lifetime. These trends are reflected in the statistics - the rate of eligible people entering marriage or civil union has steadily declined, while the divorce rate has stayed roughly the same in recent years – and will potentially outnumber the rate of people entering new relationships in near future.


Whatever the context, the actual act of “separating” from your partner involves a multitude of different considerations. Separation is a conscious decision to become independent of each other. “Independence” is multi-faceted. You are saying you want to be independent from your partner in not only the physical, but also legal, and financial sense. As such, in many instances separation is not simply a matter of moving out and moving on.


Separation involves matters that concern not just you and your partner – it will also involve the interests of children, pets, your home and living arrangements, property, income, and social lives.


Common questions arise when going through separation. How will we divide our property? Who gets to keep the house? How do we agree where the children live? Addressing these types of issues early on will enable you both to resolve matters promptly and move on to the next stage of life.


In our series of articles, we will look at some of the key issues to demystify the process of  separation:


1. Our home, and other property 
(a) Who will remain the family home? 
(b) How will we split our property?
(c) Do I need to get a valuation of the family home or other assets? 

Read 'Our home, and other property'. 


2. Investments, gifts and business interests 
(d) Do I get to keep my kiwisaver, inheritance, or gifts given to me during the relationship? 
(e) What impact does separation have on my or our business interests?


3. Arrangements for children, and safety and financial needs
(a) What arrangements need to be made for our children?
(b) How will I support myself (and our children) if I’m not the main income earner? 
(c) If the separation is not amicable, what steps can I take to ensure my children and I are safe?


4. Formalising separation
(a) How do we document any arrangements made? Do we need to? How do we resolve any differences? 
(b) Do I need a lawyer?
(c) I’m not married but have been with my partner for a long time. What rules apply to me? 
(d) I recently got married but we separated shortly after. What rules apply to me? 


5. Looking forward
(a) What can I do to protect my interests and wishes in future? 
(b) What are some practical tips for going through a separation? 


If you need tailored legal advice regarding any of the above topics, please get in contact with Ruth using the link below: 

Ruth Williams - Associate