Prenup (Prenuptial) or Relationship Property Agreements to protect property and interests are a legal agreement under section 21 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

Generally, the prenup or relationship property agreement is made when someone is seeking to retain ownership of existing property, for example where one partner has a substantially greater amount of property than the other, or property has special value, perhaps being inherited or passed down through the family. A Family Lawyer can help guide you in setting up a prenup or relationship property agreement and ensure that your agreement is designed with fairness, consideration and will comply with the Property Relationships Act (often called "the PRA").

About Relationship Property Law

Often called a “Pre-Nup”, Relationship Property Agreements are not only for marriages; they are also widely used by those in de facto long term relationships and civil unions (heterosexual or same sex).

While these agreements are often made before entering into a marriage or civil union, a relationship property agreement can be entered into before or during a relationship at any time, for example if one party is to receive a large inheritance or becomes a party to a major business development. 

Property that may be protected by a relationship property agreement might include the following:

• Family homes, baches or investment real estate
• Business interests
• Cars, vehicles or boats
• Superannuation or retirement savings
• Investments, shares, cash and interests under trusts
• Jewellery and Artworks
• Animals (including pets)

Both parties to a prenup/relationship property agreement must have had independent advice from a lawyer, it must be in writing and must contain a certificate from each lawyer. An agreement which broadly says “what’s mine is mine and yours is yours” will not be enforced by a Court, however, an agreement which specifically separates or “ring fences” existing property will be enforceable. In short, a prenup or relationship property agreement needs the involvement of a lawyer, preferably a specialist in Family Law.

Looking for a lawyer to help with preparing a prenup agreement or a relationship property agreement? Contact Jennifer

Jennifer Perry is a Family Law expert who specialises in Relationship Property, divorce and separation settlement agreements and care and custody of children. Jennifer is a member of the Family Law section of the Law Society and a member of Collaborative Law New Zealand.

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