The Property (Relationships) Act 1976. The law will applies to two people over the age of 18 who are living together as a couple. The act gives an extensive definition of what living together as a couple means. It deals with the fair division of property when the relationship ends. Changes to the law came into effect on 1 February, 2002.
The Property (Relationships) Act and WILLS – some changes: Both married & de facto couples are now covered by the same rules about property sharing – generally property will be shared equally if a couple separate. These rules also apply when a partner dies – the surviving partner can choose to receive under the Will or to receive a half share of property under the Act. However, a couple can sign an agreement saying that they DO NOT want the new rules to apply to them. If a person dies without a Will de facto partners (who have been in a relationship of more than 3 years) now have the same rights as if they were married.
Family Protection claims can now be made by de facto partners and children of a de facto relationship including step children if they were being maintained or were legally entitled to be maintained by the deceased prior to death.
For further information, the Ministry’s website (see above) is a very informative site to refer to.