Relationship property law deals with the property rights of married, de-facto or civil union couples during a relationship, upon separation or when one of them dies. Relationship property laws generally apply to all married, civil-union and de-facto couples who have been in a relationship for three years or more.
Members of Bankside Chambers can provide advice at the beginning of or during a relationship and, in regard to asset structuring, prior to even commencing a relationship. Couples may want to keep particular property or contributions to property separate or to provide that property remains for the benefit of children from a previous relationship.
Our members can also provide advice about property rights when a relationship ends, including where property consists of various companies, trusts or other entities either in New Zealand or overseas. At the end of a relationship issues such as spousal maintenance, child support and other claims may need to be considered.
Barristers have acted as counsel in bringing or defending claims under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, the Family Proceedings Act 1980 and other statutes and legal principles. Members have represented clients at all levels of the New Zealand courts — the Family Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court — and in mediations.
Experienced counsel are also available to appear in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court with respect to difficult issues concerning care and protection, uplift of children and young people, and the role of the courts and the Chief Executive in decision-making. This includes advising on the role of the courts in guardianship cases and court-appointed experts, the statutory role of both lawyer for child and social workers, and matters of habeas corpus and judicial oversight.
Bankside barristers Lady Deborah Chambers KC and Josie Beverwijk, with Isaac Hikaka of Mills Lane Chambers, appeared before the Supreme Court on the 13th and 14th June 2023 arguing that an abusive parent was in a fiduciary relationship with his children when he transferred his assets to trust to ensure that his children could never make any claim against those assets either in his life or upon death. Josie Beverwijk provides more background and detail about the case.
For the first time, a New Zealand Court has ordered an unwilling party to attend mediation. Lady Deborah Chambers QC and Simon Barber recently appeared for the husband in Wright v Pitfield  NZHC 385.
Lady Deborah Chambers QC obtained leave from the Supreme Court to appeal the Court of Appeal decision for Lambie Trustee Limited.