Property (Relationships) Amendment Act 2001 and Retirement: Are Separated Women More Disadvantaged Than Men?

Property (Relationships) Amendment Act 2001 and Re...
01 Aug 2012
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This report was commissioned by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income (the “Commission”) in November 2011. It is one part of a larger project currently being undertaken by the Commission entitled “Raising Women’s Future Retirement Prospects.” The “Raising Women’s Future Retirement Prospects” project considers why women are more constrained than men in their ability to accumulate adequate wealth for their retirement over the course of their lifetimes and examines what steps can be taken to reduce this gender gap.

As part of the “Raising Women’s Future Retirement Prospects” project the Commission posed the following questions:

  • What are women’s experiences of factors in the workplace that impact on their ability to save for retirement?
  • What factors impact on the ease of women leaving and re-joining the workforce at different life stages, and how do those factors affect savings for retirement?
  • How does financial and non-financial support (or lack of it) from marriage/partnership, other family, friends, whanau and the community impact on women’s retirement savings?
  • What are the financial arrangements that women are provided with or take away from relationship breakups and how do those arrangements impact either positively or negatively on the assets they accumulate for retirement income in comparison to the assets accumulated by men?
  • What are some of the cultural and ethnic factors that may ameliorate or exacerbate negative outcomes for women’s income in retirement?

This report addresses one of the above questions, namely: What are the financial arrangements that women are provided with or take away from relationship breakups and how do those arrangements impact either positively or negatively on the assets they accumulate for retirement income in comparison to the assets accumulated by men?

 This report considers how New Zealand men and women fare comparatively upon separation under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (the “PRA”) and the Family Proceedings Act 1980 (the “FPA”) since 2002 - when significant reforms were made to the legislation - and examines the impact such separations may have upon their retirement income.

The report is structured in the following way: First, the report provides background information about income equality and retirement both in New Zealand and overseas. This is followed by an explanation of the relevant sections and principles of the PRA and the FPA. Third, the report sets out a detailed statistical analysis of New Zealand Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court decisions concerning relationship property and spousal maintenance over the last nine years. The report concludes with findings about the positive and negative impact of separation upon men and women in relation to retirement income and recommendations for future research.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018