Relationship Property Report 2021

In February 2022, the Family Law section of the New Zealand Law Society, together with Grant Thornton, released the New Zealand Relationship Property Survey of 2021.

Key findings of the report include:

• In 2021, Covid-19 played a significant role in family law and pushed stress or family strains ahead of marital affairs as the main reason for couples wanting to separate.

• Net relationship property assets have significantly increased in value, with the likely reason being attributed to property values increasing, as seen in recent years.

• The report found that that systemic delay in the Family Court ranked the most challenging issue for practitioners, whilst dealing with unrealistic, aggressive, or inexperienced opposing counsel came second, and non-disclosure of information between either party came in third.

• Fewer cases are being filed and the rate of settlement outside of the Court system has increased due to court hearings and other family matters being prioritised over relationship property disputes.

• Out of the 270 relationship property practitioners surveyed, over a quarter of them recorded difficulties achieving remote signing of section 21 (pre-nuptial/contracting out agreements) and section 21A agreements (settlement agreements) during Level 3 and 4 lockdowns during the pandemic. It is presumed due to technical difficulties in stressful environments caused these difficulties.

• Many practitioners are in favour of a regime which would require the joint appointment of a forensic accountant. Many of the relationship property practitioners who participated in the survey indicated greater use of forensic accountants generally and the increasing use of a joint forensic accountant following the same approach in the UK and Australia.

The report provided Blackwood Montagna confirmation of what we have been seeing in house: that the effects of Covid-19 have played and continue to play a significant role in many relationships.

Our team are dedicated to working with our clients and families to achieve the right outcomes within sensitive issues such as pre-nuptials, separation, or divorce. We work empathetically and practically, working to resolve issues in a non-confrontational manner as quickly as possible.

If you're going through a separation or would like some advice, please get in contact with one of our team. We will be there to support and provide guidance throughout the process.

To read through the full report, please visit