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Insights from the Relationship Property Survey 2021

By Tara Grant - 21 Mar 2022

The Family Law section of the New Zealand Law Society, in conjunction with Grant Thornton, recently released the New Zealand Relationship Property Survey of 2021.

Key findings included:

  • Covid-19 played a significant part in family law in 2021 and affected people's reasons for separating and not separating. Fewer couples cited marital affairs as their reason for separating. Marital affairs being replaced by stress or family strains.
  • Net relationship property assets have significantly increased in value. The increase in property values that we have seen in recent years is likely the biggest contributing factor to this increase.
  • Opposing counsel continue to pose challenging issues for family practitioners. The report finding that other than systemic delay in the Family Court (which ranked the most challenging) dealing with unrealistic, aggressive or inexperienced opposing counsel came second, with non-disclosure of information between parties third.
  • Court hearings and other family matters are prioritised over relationship property disputes, resulting in fewer cases being filed and higher rates of settlement outside of the Court system.
  • Over a quarter of relationship property practitioners recorded difficulties achieving remote signing of section 21 (pre-nuptial/contracting out agreements) and section 21A agreements (settlement agreements) during Covid-19, Level 3 or 4 lockdowns. This was presumably due to technical difficulties in a challenging environment.
  • Practitioners are in favour of a regime which would require the joint appointment of a forensic accountant. Many of the relationship property practitioners who participated in the survey indicated greater use of forensic accountants generally and the increasing use of a joint forensic accountant following the same approach in the UK and Australia.

The report provides us with useful insights into the highly personal area of relationship property law. These findings, along with feedback from our clients, tell us that our pragmatic team of relationship property specialists, offering a vast depth of experience, working as advisers, advocates, negotiators and litigators, are on point.

Our crew are ground breakers in the area of remote signing of pre-nuptial and settlement agreements and regularly team up with other specialists, including forensic accountants, if they (and you) agree that that is what is needed to achieve the best and right result.

Please get in touch with one of our relationship property specialists if you need our support.


Tara Grant

Telise Kelly

Surendra Bennett


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