Sometimes pets are used as "leverage" in relationship property disputes. Photo / 123rf

Q: My partner and I are having some issues in our relationship. I have been considering separation. We have been together for 15 years and have no children together. We do have two dogs that are like our children and I am worried that I will not be able to see them if we separate. The dogs have always spent more time with me as I work from home as an artist, and I want to obtain sole custody of our dogs moving forward. How do I go about this?

Relationship property

Assets you own together are your “relationship property”. Generally, when a couple separate, relationship property is divided equally unless there is a legal agreement that says otherwise. Common examples of items that would normally be considered relationship property are:

• The family home, regardless of when it was acquired and whose name it is in;
• The family vehicles;
• Holiday homes;
• Investments;
• Retirement funds earned during the relationship (including KiwiSaver);
• Bank accounts, if the funds in the account have been earned during the relationship, even if the accounts are in separate names;
• Debts incurred during the relationship for joint purposes; and
• The family pets.

Separate Property

There are a few other types of property which are considered separate and not divisible in a separation.

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