Home | Browse Topics | Family law | Relationships and break-ups | Rules for dividing relationship property

Family law

Dividing your property when you split up (“Relationship property”)

Rules for dividing relationship property

Equal sharing of relationship property

Property (Relationships) Act 1976, s 11

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?

Property (Relationships) Act 1976, s 2F

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?

Property (Relationships) Act 1976, ss 26–28D

Under the Property (Relationships) Act, the court must have regard to the interests of any 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 keep 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?

Property (Relationships) Act 1976, s 44C

If a spouse or partner transfers relationship property to a trust and this has the effect of transferring the property so it can no longer be considered relationship property 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.

Did this answer your question?

Relationships and break-ups

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Births, Death & Marriages (Department of Internal Affairs)


This website has information about marriages and civil unions. On this site you can also apply online for a marriage licence or download the application forms.

Family Court


This Family Court webpage provides a range of information relevant to adult relationships, including information on separation, dissolution, relationship property and the court processes that apply in those areas. You can access pamphlets online, as well as Family Court forms such as Dissolution of Marriage Application packs.

Family Court fee waiver forms

Family Court fee waiver (or refund) forms are available here:


New Zealand Law Society



  • Living together
  • Dividing up relationship property
  • What happens to your children when you part?
  • What happens when your relationship breaks up?

You can access pamphlets online or order hard copies from the New Zealand Law Society.

Phone: (04) 472 7837

Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Work and Income


Relationships often have a significant impact on personal finances. For information on how your changing relationship status might affect what benefits you are entitled to, contact Work and Income.

Phone: 0800 559 009

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life. It’s for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand (and their advocates) to help themselves.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top