How New Zealand's divorce laws could soon change

Kiwi couples in the middle of a messy separation could soon be helped by a law change.

A divorce lawyer is urging the Government to change the rules about how assets are divided when couples split.

It's the rule of thumb since 1976, that if you live together for three years, you have to share your property 50/50 in a break-up.

But new research from Otago University has found a majority of Kiwis don't think the 50/50 split is fair.

Most people surveyed now think there should be an exception, saying when someone brings property in to a relationship - like a family home or a deposit - it shouldn't be shared equally.

On the other hand, more than half thought the 50/50 rule should apply earlier if the couple marry or have kids before the three-and-a-half year mark.

Divorce lawyer Jeremy Sutton believes the law is outdated when halving the house.

"That's unfair. That's not just. The clients think that, I think that, but the law needs to change," he says.

The New Zealand Law Commission has been reviewing the current legislation for several months, and next week their proposals for change of what happens to property when a relationship ends will be made public.

As it is, the law seems to be the ultimate decider of who really comes out for better, for worse - or for richer, for poorer.