Dividing your property when you split up (“Relationship property”)
Rules for dividing relationship property
Presumption of equal sharing of relationship property
If the couple cannot agree about how they will divide the relationship property, then one of them can apply to the Family Court for the property to be divided under the rules in the Property (Relationships) Act.
If the relationship has lasted at least three years, the general rule is that relationship property is divided equally between the couple.
At what date are the shares in relationship property determined?
If the relationship has ended, the shares of each spouse or partner in the relationship property are determined as at the date the relationship ended. If the couple are still living together, their shares in the relationship property are determined at the date an application for property division is made to the court.
How can children be provided for?
Under the Property (Relationships) Act, the court must have regard to the interests of any minor or dependent children of the relationship. In doing this, the court can:
- award relationship property for the benefit of the children
- make an order postponing the division of relationship property to prevent undue hardship to the spouse or partner who is the principal provider of care for the children
- recognise the need for children to have a home and make an occupation order or tenancy order allowing the spouse or partner who is the principal provider of care for the children to retain possession of the family home
- recognise the need for children to have suitable furniture and make a furniture order granting either spouse or partner the possession and use of specific furniture.
What happens if relationship property has been transferred to a trust?
If a spouse or partner transfers relationship property to a trust and this has the effect of defeating the other spouse’s or partner’s claim under the Act, then the court can order compensation in one or more of the following ways:
- payment of a sum of money to the other spouse or partner out of relationship property or separate property
- transfer of relationship property or separate property to the other spouse or partner
- payment of income from the trust to the other spouse or partner.