Many of my clients visit me at the outset of their separation to get information and advice on a range of issues.

These include asset division, spousal or child support costs and child visitation.

Why Jeremy Sutton?

I can provide practical information such as the pros and cons of leaving your family home and the information you need to gather before you reach agreements with your former spouse.

Sometimes steps need to be taken to protect your assets prior to settlement and I can walk you through this process.

For more information on separation, please see the articles below or book a consultation.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to record our separation agreement if we both agree?

Section 21F of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (“Act”) sets out a list of requirements with which an agreement must comply in order for it to be valid under the Act.

We would be happy to discuss these requirements with you further and prepare an agreement on the basis of the agreement reached between you and your partner, bearing in mind that your partner will need to obtain independent legal advice from another lawyer.

How do I get a divorce?

Under New Zealand law a marriage (or civil union) cannot be dissolved unless you have been separated from your spouse for two or more years. Once you have been separated for this period, you may apply to the Family Court for your marriage (or civil union) to be dissolved.

You will need to file an affidavit to support your application. You only need to appear before a Judge if your spouse chooses to defend your application.

Moving out of the family home and the bills…  who pays?

If one person moves out of a home that is jointly owned in a relationship, are they still responsible to pay for half of the household bills like the mortgage, power, insurance after they leave?

There are three issues to address here:

  1. Partner with no kids in the homeNormally the partner may be expected to pay their own expenses in the family home. This depends on their income compared to the partner moving out and other issues. Is there a mortgage on the home? How long is this occupation going to be for?
  2. Partner with kids still in the family homeThis is normally an exception to point one above. If you have children in the home under 16, then the Family Court will most likely be more lenient in the event that you or your partner are not contributing toward those expenses as the person who moves out must find another residence.However, if your case is one where spousal maintenance will be ordered, contributing toward those expenses can be considered part of that and can avoid or reduce any alleged expenses in the future. Find a specialist lawyer as soon as possible to discuss.


The first is the obligation to your creditors, and the second is the obligation for you or your partner to continue paying the bills.

You are equally liable in the eyes of the creditors for the the bills to be paid, unless you are able to transfer things like the utilities out of your name. Obviously, if your partner does not make these payments and you are still technically liable, your credit will be harmed. The bank deals with these cases all the time and may be flexible.

Possible options:

  • Seek a Mortgage holiday
  • Seek an interest only mortgage
  • Talk to family members for support
  • Get a flatmate into the house