A Case Where Equal Sharing of Relationship Property Would be Repugnant Justice or Completely Unfair

Introduction

Under New Zealand law, the home and chattels are normally divided 50/50 for a marriage of more than three years. It does not matter if one party has owned that property beforehand. In a recent case from the High Court in March 2015, Mr T (in his 60’s) owned the house that the parties lived in during the four year relationship, and was solely liable for the outgoings on it, paid for almost all the holidays and extra spending items with a Mrs V (in her late 40’s), applying for earnings as she wanted to.

Mr T owned the house that the parties lived in which was around 95% of the relationship property.

The High Court said that this is a routine case of the Family Court and the High Court was not in a position to make a better judgment.

The High Court noted that both parties had been previously married and neither of them were young when entering the relationship and they agreed to keep their finances separate. They also said there were no children of the relationship.

Mrs V was not economically disadvantaged by entering the relationship, but was advantaged as she lived rent or mortgage free and did not have to give up work for the relationship.

Conclusion

The High Court agreed with the Family Court that equal sharing of the relationship property would be repugnant to justice or completely unfair.

Case Comment

This relationship property case will not open the floodgates for other unequal sharing ones. Both parties had previously been married and there were no children involved. It was clear the case was decided very much on its facts.

The case does demonstrate that for much older parties, there may be greater opportunities to argue unequal sharing where finances are kept separate, and where there are marked variations in the financial contributions.


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