Q: I have been in a volatile relationship for a number of years.
My spouse wants our child to go to a private boarding school. Can that decision be forced on me? I want him to stay with me on some school nights, and I'd rather he grow up in a public school environment.
My spouse has two children from a previous relationship and she is paying large amounts of child support. Is that debt separate or joint, involving me too? The children don't live with us, and I didn't know about the children until one year into the relationship.
I am 20 years older than my partner and have an adult son from a prior relationship. I want to leave my wealth to my son. How can I ensure that happens, and will my separation change his entitlement?
A: These concerns are reasonable and often raised by my clients when they are deciding on whether to separate with their spouse or partner.
If you would like to leave your estate to your adult son, then it is important to organise your affairs now.
The first step would be to examine your estate ownership and understand what would happen if you were to pass away.
The assets that you owned prior to the present relationship may be classified as separate property. You would have to establish that these assets were kept separate throughout the duration of the relationship.
Do you have a Will? If not, it is important to make one.
If you pass away without a Will, the intestacy rules would apply, meaning a large portion of your estate would automatically go to your partner. The remainder of the estate would be divided between your children.
It may also be necessary to enter into a contracting out agreement with your partner to protect your assets from any future claims from her, and to have a clear understanding of what is to happen in the event of your death. Of course, this would require your partner's agreement.
In either case, you will need to seek advice and assistance from a lawyer.
Read the full article on the NZ Herald.