Home > New Zealand > Migrant Tale – House Buying and Divorce Laws

Migrant Tale – House Buying and Divorce Laws


Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand taken from places around the net.

Today’s tale was first published on an emigration forum. It is in two parts.

It was written by a British woman who divorced her husband after he committed adultery in New Zealand, only to find that she lost half her hard earned equity to her bankrupted husband.

Because none of her British qualifications are recognised in New Zealand she’s now living on benefits and raising the children on her own.

She gives some advice on how to protect your assets.

house buying and divorce laws

If you are thinking of moving to NZ or in the process of moving, here is some Life saving advice you will never find out until it happens to you!

If you are married already and thinking of buying a house in NZ, please know the laws in NZ are not like UK especially when it comes to divorce/separation.

I married my now ex in UK in 2006, I had a house he was a bankrupt. We have a son together. In NZ the law is, if you are married more than 3 years the equity split is 50/50. Property division is a separate issue to the children. So even if the wife brings in ALL the equity, i.e. 400k, because the husband has the Job offer in NZ, and the husband commits adultry to get out of the marriage after three years (which isn’t illegal here), and the wife is left with the kids, he can claim half your equity.

Also women please check to see if any of your English qualifications are recognised here, none of mine are so now Im living on benefits. For me try and get more than 50% of my equity back you have to go to court (cost between 10-30k).

Looking after a child on benefits and having no NZ recognised qualifications after bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to NZ, and your husband has a good job, is not good reason to claim back your equity….. and if your children are over 6 years old, benefits is limited if you are not actively applying for jobs even though there aren’t any, it’s a recession here too.

So get a pre nuptial or better still put any equity that you intend to buy a house and share with any partner in NZ, into a trust, or leave your money in the UK again in a trust fund, and rent here, as the housing market is going down not up.

Part two

I had a meeting wth a lawyer this morning and he told me the laws have changed, so everything ive been reading on the internet in terms of help or rights for someone in my situation, is no longer valid.  The law is 50/50 it doesnt matter that I contributed 100% of equity, or bought both our cars, i.e. everything, the fact that the house we lived in was considered marital property, its 50/50. I was told because we didnt have a prenuputal even though he is aware we were married in UK where back then they are not legally binding documents, he said that makes no difference everybody in NZ is aware that you have to have a pre nuptual and that is all a Judge will look at. The child of the marriage has no bearing on the equity split, and neither does the fact that he has a job and Im on benefits supporting our child, and been paying his share of the joint mortgage for two years.

Bottom line is he told me, only the Valuation of a house is relevant, not the market selling price which Ive been given by our real estate agent which proves houses are selling at only 95% of valuation. The selling costs are not taken into account either, and neither is the costs the make the house insurable by a new buyer. So basically half the sellable costs are ignored, and an inflated value is what will determine the price after selected deductions to deterine a figure to give my ex husband in court. Doing this means an unrealistic figure will be presented to the Judge, which will obvioiusly present a potential $ value in terms of my ex husbands entitlement, so the only option is to actually sell to prove the fact that figure is not achieveable. Because im on benefits I cant get a loan, to buy him out.

The outcome therefore is, selling my house to give my ex husband money that cannot be achieved through a realistic sale, beacuse actually selling will mean selling costs that were not taken into account by the Judge. This means my ex stlll gets nothing, but now because the house had to be sold to prove this fact me and our 5 year old son will have to get a rental property. Unlike in the UK, they are below human right conditons, ie no heating, no double glazing, mould ridden and winters reach below minus 10c wind chill in winter, so in a daughty wooden house with no insulation and high power costs here, and doctor vists at almost 40 dollars a visit, (thats my food budge for the week for me and my son),  NO national health in NZ, means if I drop dead will be the best outcome for both me and my son.

At least my child can be wth his legally allowed gold digging father and have a warm roof over his head and food in his belly, as the legal system here is making sure immigrant mothers like me, with heeps of cash, end up homeless, peniless and jobless due to Uk qualification restrictions.

Therefore today confirmed to me the new “blanket” property settlement laws, do not take any extenuating issues into account, which means, any partner you have when you arrive in NZ if they have a foreign passport, there is nothing stopping them from ripping you off, and never pay child maintenace after  they get your equity, beacuse property settlements is separate to child issues, so unlike NZ citizens who cannot run away from debts or their maintenance responsibilites, immigrants can, and they do so with the blessing of the courts, because they can take your equity, use your money to leave NZ using their britsh passports,  never to return or pay child support! This unfortuantely the truth and the facts in terms of the law here, so I again have to say IMMIGRANTS WITH CHILDREN AND CASH BEWARE!

De Facto Relationships and Civil Unions
Many people are unaware that in New Zealand people in De Facto relationships also have rights over assets, not just married couples and those in civil unions.

The law as it applies to property may be found here The Property Relationships Act 1976: Information on the law relating to the property of married and de facto couples.

Property Prices

House prices will drop, warns Westpac bank (27/3/2012)

“The bank released a report on the housing market today saying increasing values in Auckland and Christchurch were due to a shortage of homes and that the rest of the country was unlikely to see such large rises.

”We expect higher interest rates and a burst of construction activity to curtail the market in years to come,” Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said.

Nationally, house prices were up 4.3 per cent last year according to the Real Estate Institute. In Auckland, the increase was 6.45 per cent, from $455,000 in December 2010 to $484,375 in December 2011.

Stephens expected house prices to rise a further five per cent this year then stay flat in 2013 before falling one per cent in each of the following two years.

”Our fear is that prices could rise more than five per cent this year, particularly if the Reserve Bank dallies on hiking the official cash rate. And we do use the word ‘fear’, because the further prices rise in the short run, the further there could be to fall over a longer horizon,” Stephens said…

”Interest rates will not stay this low forever. We expect rates to rise substantially over the 2013 to 2015 period, as the Reserve Bank struggles to contain inflationary pressures arising from the Canterbury rebuild. Higher interest rates would put the brakes on the housing market in short order,” Stephens said. ”And second, house prices in New Zealand remain stretched relative to incomes.”

While the Auckland and Christchurch markets showed a large lift in property values, prices fell in most other areas with a pick up seen only towards the end of the year…”

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