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Top tips when separating

We were recently contacted by our client Alan who has separated from his wife Sarah of 35 years.

While things are reasonably amicable now, Alan is concerned at how they will split their assets which include a grazing block, the home farm that Alan inherited from his parents and a bach in Coromandel.

It is never easy when a relationship ends, but there are things you can do to protect your position while remaining amicable.

These are our top 5 tips when you are in the early stages of separating:

  1. Speak to your bank and advise them of your change in circumstances. They may have options available to financially assist through the period of separation including short term restructuring of lending. If there are personal guarantees in place you also need to make sure that your position is protected if one partner increases spending limits without prior discussion.

  2. Seek professional advice about the value of assets. Assets are valued as at the date of separation. It’s important therefore to get independent advice about values early in the process. Real Estate Agents, Stock Agents and Valuers can all provide useful assistance in this regard. Understanding the value of assets will help determine how assets are divided on separation and will also be required if one partner is wanting to obtain finance to buy out the other.

  3. Engage a relationship property lawyer as soon as possible.  Understanding your legal position early in the process is vital. Assets will not necessarily be divided how you expect, and valuable time can be saved if you understand from the outset what the correct legal position is. This then enables negotiations to take place from an informed position and helps to preserve an amicable relationship.

  4. Be prepared to each have your own lawyer. A Separation Agreement recording the division of assets on separation is the legal document required to give effect to what is agreed. A Separation Agreement is only enforceable if each party has received independent legal advice and each lawyer has signed the necessary certificates in this regard. Involving both lawyers early in the process can ensure that everyone has the same information at the same time and assist in resolving issues that come up along the way.

Need help? 

Getting good financial, valuation and legal advice at the outset can assist you to navigate the difficult separation process.

For more advice on all aspects of separation and relationship property contact our team, Rachel Cooper and Kirsty McDonald

About the author - Rachel Cooper, Senior Solicitor