COMMENT:

Q. We have been in a relationship for about seven years. We speak to each other daily, by telephone, but see each other infrequently as we live at opposite ends of the country. It is an arrangement that suits us both and we have no plans to live together. We visit each other maybe once every two months and share holidays in NZ and overseas of no more than 2-3 weeks' duration, about every 12 months. We share the cost of outings and travel but do not operate a joint bank account.

We have discussed the situation and, in the event of death or a break-up of the friendship, are agreed that neither will have a claim on the other's estate. About three years ago we set this agreement out in writing and had our signatures witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. We each have a copy of this agreement.

To us the situation is quite clear, but we wish to know if this is sufficient to exclude us from the Matrimonial Property Act?

A. Under the Property (Relationships) Act (formerly the Matrimonial Property Act), once a couple has been married or "live together as a couple" (a de facto relationship) for three years, then generally speaking, their assets and debts become "relationship property" and are divided equally between them if they separate.

There is no one element which determines whether a partnership qualifies as "living together as a couple". Instead, all the circumstances of the relationship are considered. For example, how long the couple have been together and whether they live in the same home (some of the time or all of

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If you don't want the Act to apply

Conclusion

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