|dc.description.abstract||Although it is clear from the Act that a person can be in more than one qualifying relationship at a time, the courts have shown themselves to be reluctant to recognise contemporaneous relationships as falling within the ambit of the Act. Because of this, contemporaneous relationships will only be recognised where it is abundantly clear that the parties are living together as a couple.
Sections 52A and 52B are designed to divide property between relationships, and do not override the usual rules governing the division of relationship property between the partners in a relationship. Sections 52A and 52B will apply after the court finds that the relationship property of contemporaneous relationships overlap, and they will only apply to those pieces of property which are found to be relationship property of both relationships.
The first limb of the rule in sections 52A and 52B will be redundant as all property that is relationship property of a relationship is attributable to that relationship. Property which is relationship property of both relationships will be divided between the relationships in accordance with their respective contributions to its acquisition.
Sections 52A and 52B work to the advantage of the common partner, leaving them with half of the total relationship property. Because sections 52A and 52B only apply if the court has made findings in respect of each relationship, it is to the advantage of the common partner to litigate both disputes simultaneously, rather than undergo successive settlements with each partner. Sections 52A and 52B can also be used to manipulate the outcome where only one of the relationships has ended, or, in the case of the common partners' death, where one of the partners has an interest in retaining as much of the relationship property as possible between themselves and the deceased common partners estate.
Given the difficulties in applying sections 52A and 52B, and their fairly arbitrary outcome, they would be better replaced with an unambiguous provision which allocated specified shares to the relationships on a more objective basis.
[Extract from Introduction]||en_NZ