LAWGENRL 429 : Law of Family Property


2024 Summer School (1240) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Advanced study of the law of property in family contexts, including trusts, succession, and matrimonial property.

Course Overview

The law of family property is an important and interesting area of law that is relevant to general practitioners as well as family law specialists. This course will provide preliminary study in relation to front-end issues (asset protection measures) and advanced study on back-end issues (asset disputes) in the family law context.

In particular, we will discuss law and policy issues that arise in the interpretation and application of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 such as pre-nuptial agreements, relationship property disputes, family trust disputes and estate disputes. We will examine developments in ‘trust-busting’ as it pertains to family trusts.  

We will also cover the law and policy behind spousal maintenance and re-settlement of family trusts under the Family Proceedings Act 1980 and estate disputes under the Family Protection Act 1955 and the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949.

Course Requirements

Corequisite: LAW 306 Restriction: LAW 445

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Laws

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Critically engage with current issues in policy and practice relating to the law of family property, including the nature and function of the law of family property within a wider social context. (Capability 3.1)
  2. Apply and critically analyse key provisions in the PRA to differing fact scenarios. (Capability 3.2, 4.1 and 4.2)
  3. Apply and critically analyse the application of key provisions contained in other family property statutes, including the Family Proceedings Act 1980, Family Protection Act 1955, Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949, Trustee Act 1952, Administration Act 1969, Wills Act 2007 and Child Support Act 1991. (Capability 3.2, 4.1 and 4.2)
  4. Utilise analytical reasoning skills in interpreting, applying and communicating the law of family property. (Capability 4.1 and 6.1)
  5. Articulate and critically examine the law of family property’s ability to achieve justice and equality between partners in the organisation and division of assets. (Capability 1.2)
  6. Recognise the differing approaches in domestic and international law’s treatment of relationship property and how this impacts on sustaining (or not) communities. (Capability 2.1)
  7. Explore innovative and reasoned legal arguments for the benefit of a client in a relationship property dispute. (Capability 5.1)
  8. Communicate key aspects of the law of family property to different audiences with an emphasis on advising a client. (Capability 7.1)
  9. Employ ethical and professional decision-making skills in advising clients on family property matters. (Capability 8.1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Multiple Choice Quiz 10% Individual Coursework
Client Advice Viva Voce 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 60% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Multiple Choice Quiz
Client Advice Viva Voce
Final Exam

Workload Expectations

This is a standard 15-point course. There will be around 36 hours of lectures in this course. As a general guide, you should expect a workload of three hours outside of the classroom for each hour spent in class. The guideline for the total workload for this course is 150 hours.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities. 
Lectures will be available as recordings. 
Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled in a weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Course book : 

The course book is available electronically on CANVAS under the “Reading List” Tab. The Faculty is no longer preparing hardcopies of the course book. 

Recommended Text : 

Please ensure that you have a copy of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (updated with amendments). Please also review the Law Commission Report 2018 posted on CANVAS.

Additional Material: 

Please ensure that you have access to the Family Court Rules 2002 (as amended); the High Court Rules 2009 (as amended); schedule 2 of the Judicature Act 1908 (as amended) and the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008. You are not required to buy textbooks. 

The standard textbooks (which are available at the Davis Law Library) are: LexisNexis Family Law Service; Brookers Family Law: Family Property (Thomson Reuters); Fisher on Matrimonial Property (LexisNexis); Relationship Property Legislation (LexisNexis); Atkin & Parker, Relationship Property in New Zealand; Peart, Briggs & Henaghan (eds) Relationship Property on Death (Thomson Brookers).

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

The comments from the SET evaluation will be considered in the development of future classes in the Law of Family Property. 

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

The use of AI (such as Chat GPT) is not permitted in preparing, drafting or completing any of the assessments in this course. 

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course director, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a Student Academic and Support Adviser as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 13/10/2023 08:39 a.m.