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Communtity Law Manual | Relationships & break-ups | Separation orders: Old-fashioned and hardly ever used

Separating

Separation orders: Old-fashioned and hardly ever used

What is a separation order?

Family Proceedings Act 1980, ss 20–23

The law dealing with couples and break-ups still formally includes the concept of a “separation order”. This is an order made by a Family Court judge saying that there’s such a “state of disharmony” between a married or civil union couple that there’s now no “obligation” for them to live together.

Separation orders are now almost never made, as they’re an old-fashioned concept that has little relevance to modern New Zealand life. It’s unlikely that any court today would ever recognise that two people have a legal “obligation” to live together, whether or not a separation order has been made. By contrast, separation agreements (see above) continue to be used as a practical way for couples to record the decisions they make when they split up.

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