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Family law

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

What happens to a couple’s property when one of them has died

Survivor must choose whether to apply for division under Property (Relationships) Act

Property (Relationships) Act 1976, Part 8

The Property (Relationships) Act also covers division of property when a relationship ends because a spouse or partner dies.

The surviving spouse or partner has to choose whether to apply for relationship property to be divided under the Act or whether to take what is left to them under the deceased’s will, if there is one, or under the intestacy rules in the Administration Act 1969, if there’s no will. See the chapter “Wills”

If a surviving spouse or partner makes a claim under the Act, their claim comes before any other person’s claim under inheritance law. This means that one spouse or partner should not be able to give away the other spouse’s or partner’s share of relationship property in their will.

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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

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