Family Law

Here at Heathcote Legal we are committed to assisting you in your family situation. We aim to tailor our approach to your needs to make you feel comfortable during an emotionally difficult time in your life. We understand that your needs and circumstances will be unique and we will involve you in each step of the process to work with you to achieve the right and most reasonable outcome.

The majority of our matters are resolved quickly and amicably, often achieving practical and workable solutions, saving our clients the emotional and financial loss of litigation.

In an area as sensitive and complex as Family Law, we strive to provide our clients with the highest standard of service.

We can assist with the following:

Relationship Property / Contracting-Out Agreements

Couples can make their own rules about ownership of their property. By entering into a “Contracting-Out” or “Pre-nuptial” agreement, married, civil union or de facto parties may decide between themselves who owns the property and how the property will be divided if the relationship comes to an end.

A couple who decides to contract out of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 will need to follow special procedural rules in order for the agreement to be valid.

Married, de facto or civil union couples who have lived together for less than three years are usually not covered by the equal-sharing rules in the Act.  They too however may wish to make their own property agreements to avoid uncertainty.

Our expertise include:

  • Section 21 Agreements (“Contracting-Out” Agreements);
  • Property Sharing Agreements;
  • Division of Relationship Property;
  • Separation Agreements;
  • Relationship Property claims against Family Trusts;
  • Asset planning and creditor protection

For further information or for a free no obligation quote or consultation, please contact us today.


Separation does not always lead to divorce, but it does dramatically change your circumstances. There is no formal document that must be signed to confirm that you have separated. “Separation” happens when at least one person communicates to the other party that the relationship has ended and that both parties will no longer live together as husband and wife, or as de facto spouses. Parties can separate by one person moving out of the home, or you can be “separated” under one roof, so long as you are both leading separate lives.

If you are intending on separating, or if you have separated, it is important that you obtain legal advice to ensure that you know and understand your rights, responsibilities and entitlements.

It is possible to come to an agreement in relation to the division of your matrimonial assets and the custody of your children before being divorced.

For further information or for a free no obligation quote or consultation, please contact us today.


Divorce / Dissolution

Parties to a marriage or civil union must be separated and living apart for a continuous period of more than 2 years before making an application for a dissolution of their marriage.

People who want to remarry need to divorce their ex-partner before they can legally marry their new partner. Once a divorce is granted, it becomes final or “absolute” one month after the order has been made in Court, unless there are special circumstances to vary this.

Our team is experienced in dealing with divorce and separation matters. We will prepare all the paperwork necessary and file your application in the Family Court.

For further information or for a free no obligation quote or consultation, please contact us today.


Child Support

Child Support is financial support paid by parents who either don’t live with their children, or who share care of their children with another person.  The Child Support Scheme is administered by the IRD and operates under the Child Support Act 1991. The Scheme is put in place to ensure that parents take financial responsibility for their children.

Child Support payments are calculated using the adjusted taxable income of both parents and subtracting standard amounts for personal living costs and the parent’s other children. The formula also takes into account the care that each parent provides for the children and the costs of raising them.

It is possible for the parties to resolve and agree on Child Support matters between themselves, by entering into a voluntary agreement. There are some rules and conditions to follow before the IRD will accept the proposed arrangement. Our experienced team will be happy to assist you, by answering any questions and preparing the required documentation on your behalf. Once the voluntary agreement is accepted and registered with the IRD, any formula assessed child support in place relating to the children in the voluntary agreement will be cancelled.

For more information or for a free no obligation quote or consultation please contact us today.


Care of Children

After a separation or divorce it is important to have arrangements for children in place. The wellbeing of the child is absolutely imperative. Sometimes these arrangements are informal or verbal agreements with your ex-partner, however it is more secure, legally speaking, to have such arrangements put in writing and recognised by the court.

The court encourages parents, wherever possible, to come to an agreement when making parenting arrangements rather than resorting to contested court proceedings. Our family lawyers are experienced in negotiations and can assist you in this regard. We understand the pain and expense which can arise from lengthy court battles. You can be assured that our family lawyers will always, wherever possible, aim to settle the matter without recourse to court action.

If an agreement is reached between the parties, one of our family lawyers can draft consent orders so that the agreement is formally recognised by the New Zealand legal system.

If negotiation between the parties do not reach a resolution we can assist you through arranging and assisting your participation in alternate dispute resolution such as mediation or conciliation.

If all other avenues are exhausted we can apply to the Family Court to obtain parenting orders. Our family lawyers are experienced in court room litigation and will fight vigorously for your rights. More importantly our family law team will always be mindful of the best interests of the children.

For more information or for a free no obligation quote or consultation please contact us today.


Spousal Maintenance

After your marriage or civil union is dissolved or your de facto relationship has ended, you are entitled to receive maintenance from the other party for your reasonable needs if you cannot practicably meet all or part of those needs because of any of the following grounds:

  1. The ability of each party to become self supporting;
  2. The responsibilities of either party after the relationship has ended, for the daily ongoing care of any minor or dependent children;
  3. The standard of living when the parties lived together;
  4. The undertaking of one party of a period of education or training to improve their earning capacity or to eliminate the need for spousal maintenance payments.

If your marriage or civil union has not yet been dissolved, you may still be entitled to claim maintenance from your spouse or partner if you can show that you have a reasonable need for it, either based on the grounds outlined above, or if you have a physical or mental disability or if you are unable to obtain work that is reasonable for you to do and adequate to provide for you.

For further information or for a free no-obligation quote or consultation, please contact us today.


Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (or threats thereof), sexual assault, controlling or domineering, neglect and (but not limited to) psychological or emotional abuse. There is usually a pattern of behavior evident, which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting.

A victim of domestic violence may apply to the Court for a protection order under the Domestic Violence Act 1955, by firstly showing that a domestic relationship exists and secondly that the order is necessary to protect them (or their child) against the person using violence. In most circumstances it is possible to obtain a protection order without forewarning the abuser.

The victim may also wish to apply for an Occupation / Tenancy Order to enable them to stay living in the same house, or a Furniture order to let them keep the furniture or appliances in the house.

Please contact us today for further information or for a free no-obligation quote or consultation.

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