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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 22813
Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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I have been married to my husband for twelve years but we have

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I have been married to my husband for twelve years but we have been together for 20 years. Everything we have acquired throughout our relationship he has put into Trusts. He says that if we split that nothing in the Trusts will be relationship property. Is this true? My name is XXXXX XXXXX any of the Trust Deeds and I am not a Trustee in any of the Trusts. However, he has bought property and possessions over the last 20 years that in my opinion should be considered joint property even though he has a bigger percentage in the properties that I do. He says in case of a split, he would pay out my small percentage but that is all that I would get. Can you please advise if I have any legal rights here?

Chris The Lawyer :

Hi and welcome. My first response will follow shortly. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear.

Chris The Lawyer :

The Property Relationships Act at Section 44C gives you the ability to break open the trusts. it says-

Chris The Lawyer :
44CCompensation for property disposed of to trust

  • (1)This section applies if the court is satisfied—

    • (a)that, since the marriage, the civil union, or the de facto relationship began, either or both spouses or partners have disposed of relationship property to a trust; and

    • (b)that the disposition has the effect of defeating the claim or rights of one of the spouses or partners; and

    • (c)that the disposition is not one to which section 44 applies.

    (2)If this section applies, the court may make 1 or more of the following orders for the purpose of compensating the spouse or partner whose claim or rights under this Act have been defeated by the disposition:

    • (a)an order requiring one spouse or partner to pay to the other spouse or partner a sum of money, whether out of relationship property or separate property:

    • (b)an order requiring one spouse or partner to transfer to the other spouse or partner any property, whether the property is relationship property or separate property:

    • (c)an order requiring the trustees of the trust to pay to one spouse or partner the whole or part of the income of the trust, either for a specified period or until a specified amount has been paid.

Chris The Lawyer :

So if he disposed of property during the marriage, which would normally have been relationship property, and placed this in the trusts, then you can claim against that property


When you say in (a) above "disposed of relationship property to a trust" does that mean putting relationship property into a Trust. For example if he bought a house and put that straight into the trust is that considered disposing property to a trust?

Chris The Lawyer :

Yes that is the sort of transaction which is likely to be caught


Thanks your answers have been very helpful. I take it from your answers that I would have a fairly high chance of getting more than the mere $100,000 that I have invested in two houses of considerable value, an office building and a business?

Chris The Lawyer :

From your description, yes


Thank you - at least I now know where I stand.

Chris The Lawyer :

This section is sometimes known as the trust busting section

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