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Silver Splitters: starting again after divorce

By Surendra Bennett - 5 Apr 2018

The number of people divorcing aged 50+ is on the increase. These couples are sometimes referred to as 'Silver Splitters'. Life really can begin again at this age, where you meet someone new and settle down once again. Life may be wonderful during the honeymoon period and the thought that another relationship might fail often never enters your mind. Discussions around money and assets can be seen as unromantic and even offensive!

However, at this age, you are likely to have far more assets and a lot more at stake if a relationship does not work out. You most likely have adult children and often grandchildren to think about. And even if you aren't thinking about the impact on your assets if your relationship ends, there is a high chance your children will be.

It is prudent to engage in some asset planning, ideally before you start living together or before you have been living together for three years. You can enter into a Contracting Out Agreement (also known as a pre-nup) at any time during your relationship. A Contracting Out Agreement is vital if you and your new partner are living together in the home which you owned before the relationship. After three years of living together your partner is entitled to claim half the house if you separate.

It is not necessary to be married to have a qualifying relationship. De facto relationships are also covered under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976. If you don't have a Contracting Out Agreement in place and your relationship does not work out, then your separation can result in your assets being divided in half, perhaps for a second time (including pensions, superannuation and KiwiSaver). This could have a dire effect on your lifestyle and quality of life at a time when you should be enjoying your later years. It can also have a significant effect on your ability to leave funds to your children in your will.

In order to protect your assets, a Contracting Out Agreement will ensure your assets remain your separate property in the event of a separation or on your death.

In relation to your will, you have a legal obligation to ensure that your spouse or de facto partner and your children (even if they're adult) have been taken care of financially in the event of your death. Leaving them out of the will is inviting a challenge against your will and can have your family dealing with animosity and years in court. This can be further complicated if your new partner is significantly younger than you.

The wisest option would be to obtain legal advice for your particular situation, know the options available and have open discussions with your partner and family.

If you would like to know whether your relationship is considered a de facto relationship under the law, or you would like to enter into a Contracting Out Agreement, contact Surendra Bennett from our specialist Family law team.


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