How property is divided when a marriage or relationship breaks up is to be reviewed by the Law Commission.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has asked the commission to begin three new projects next year.

They will be to review the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 and the Declaratory Judgments Act 1908.

The property act was last reviewed in 2001, and deals with how property is divided when a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship ends.


"The division of property at the end of a relationship is a stressful and often complex process that affects many thousands of New Zealanders each year. It is crucial that the law operates as effectively and as fairly as possible and the review is designed to ensure that is the case," Ms Adams said.

The commission has also been asked to work with the Ministry of Justice to begin a review of the operation of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 -- including how modern technology might affect police investigations.

"This joint review will consider how this law has operated since it was passed, and whether any changes are needed to respond to issues such as the impact of modern technology on the ability of Police and other authorities to prevent and investigate crime."

The Law Commission will also review the Declaratory Judgments Act 1908. This law allows people to ask the High Court to clarify the meaning of a law, or the legality of a situation.

The next step for initiating the three projects is to confirm their respective terms of reference.