Certify the Agreement
For your agreement to be enforceable each person needs to get advice on its effects and implications, and the advising lawyer needs to certify they have given you this advice. CODR provides all this for a flat fee which starts at $1725 for both of you (including GST). This price will increase the more complex the agreement is and particularly if the division of property is unequal. This results in an enforceable agreement that can be used by your bank or solicitor to transfer titles and other assets. Best of all, this process can be done entirely online.
Frequently asked questions
What happens after we have a certified agreement?
This depends on the purpose for which you got the agreement. For couples who have a family home or properties, this may include showing the agreement to the bank (if there’s a mortgage) or a conveyancing lawyer to change the title on the property to one party only. It may include showing your KiwiSaver Scheme Manager if you need to access or split funds.
What happens if my lawyer refuses to certify?
This is unlikely but in the event that a lawyer does not wish to certify your agreement CODR will refund you the invoice for certification less any costs already incurred in the process.
Can we get a JP or friend to witness this for the “certification” stage?
No. Under the Property Relationships Act 1976 this must be a New Zealand lawyer (either a barrister or solicitor).
Do we need legal advice before certification?
Sometimes our lawyers will not want to certify an agreement which they deem to be seriously unfair or unjust to one party and will strongly advise against it. While the decision ultimately resides with you, this may mean our lawyers request that you obtain further legal advice prior to an agreement being certified.
What if we disagree or need to change the agreement during the certification?
It often happens that one of the party’s independent lawyers will suggest edits or variations to the agreement. This should be expected as part of the advice and certification stage.
What happens if we pay for certification and decide not to go ahead with it?
CODR will refund your certification less any costs CODR has incurred. Please see CODR Terms and Conditions for more information.
We cannot afford the fee for certification. Is CODR flexible with payment?
In situations where partners are serious about getting their agreement certified but cannot pay the fee upfront, CODR may be able to consider part-payment. Please contact CODR to discuss your situation.
What documents will the lawyers need to see?
You must properly disclose to each other all relevant information about relationship and separate property. Any documents you have to show current values or titles (such as Kiwisaver accounts, House value, cars, bank accounts) should be available to show your lawyer. They will let you know any other documents they need.
How long does the certification process take?
If the agreement and your situation is simple and relationship property is divided equally, the whole process can take only a few hours. From receiving payment of your invoice, to the completion of the certification, CODR aims to take no more than two weeks (as the agreement goes to each party and their lawyer consecutively).
Where do I need to go for the certification?
Nowhere in particular! CODR provides all services completely online.
What do I need?
You will need an up to date browser (we recommend Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari), internet connection, web-cam and microphone on your device. We recommend a laptop or computer for the best visual experience but you can use your mobile phone if you have to.
How do I sign the agreement online?
CODR uses software which allows you to sign the agreement directly. This can be using your finger on a touchpad, or directly on screen if you are using a tablet device, or your mouse to draw your signature. If you have a saved signature you can also use this if you have it saved in an accessible format.
How does the process work?
Once you notify CODR you have finished your agreement [DON”T SIGN IT YET], we provide that to the independent lawyers (one for one person; another for the other).
First, one lawyer explains the effects and implications of the agreement to you and certifies they have done this before you sign. Once that is done, the lawyer sends the agreement to the other lawyer. The other lawyer explains to your partner the effects and implications of the agreement and certifies they have done so before your partner signs. It’s done.
We completed the agreement! What happens next?
Don’t sign it yet!
The next stage is certification. The independent lawyers CODR arranges, certify that they have explained the effect and implications of the agreement to you. They witness your signature of it. Once that is done, the agreement is sent to your partner’s lawyer to do the same.
What if my partner is based overseas?
Only one of you needs to live in New Zealand for the agreement to be binding. The jurisdiction of the Property Relationships Act 1976 relates to all property in New Zealand and “moveable” property anywhere in the world (ie not land). You can agree to divide all such property in your separation agreement and it should be enforceable by New Zealand Courts.
Can we create our own agreements without using your document?
Yes but we advise against doing that without any legal advice. The law requires:
- The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties;
- Each party must have independent legal advice before signing the agreement; and
- The signature must be witnessed by that lawyer, with the lawyer certifying that he or she has explained the effect and implications of the agreement before it was signed.
In order to use our certification service online, we prefer that our agreements are used as a precedent. This is because our lawyers know and endorse our agreements. They have been considered and adapted many times. Third parties such as banks and other law firms have reviewed them.
How can I be sure that this agreement is fit for my purposes?
If you are unsure about whether this agreement fits your situation, please contact one of CODR’s staff or enquire through our online form.
What happens if we purchase the agreement, but decide not to use your service for certification?
That is fine. It is up to you which lawyers you engage to certify your agreement. You may be able to use our agreement with another local law firm.
Do we need legal advice after we get the agreement?
Each party to the agreement must have independent legal advice before signing. The independent lawyer provided by CODR will give you that advice – he or she will explain the effect and implications of the agreement. This is mandatory under the Act (otherwise the agreement is void). Sometimes our lawyers will advise against entering into the agreement (for example because it is seriously unjust and the Court could set it aside). While the decision is yours, it is possible that the lawyer will decline to certify the agreement.
Do we need legal advice before getting the agreement?
No – but this depends on your situation. Some partners with complex assets or needs may well need legal advice (as the certification stage provides advice on the effects and implications of the agreement only).
What if my partner does not agree?
Unfortunately, this process is voluntary for couples. This means if one party does not want to sign, you may have to go to the Family Court or suggest alternative options such as mediation in relation to your relationship property dispute.
The agreement is a prompted questionnaire that partners work through. What if we make a mistake or need to go back?
That’s no issue. Any changes can be made the agreement as it will be downloadable as a Word document.
What if I don’t own a credit card. How do I get the agreement?
CODR can provide invoices or direct bank transfers. Please contact one of CODR’s staff to get this sorted and we can provide a link to the automated agreement.
How long does it take?
This will vary between couples and will depend to an extent how complex your situation is. However, generally it takes no longer than an hour to complete the agreement for most couples with a straightforward situation.
How much does the agreement cost?
It costs $172.50 ($150 plus GST). This is payable directly on our website. You get a document which you can be confident will cover most of your issues and which has been used by many others and examined by many lawyers, banks and third parties.
What is included?
Our agreements cover the usual range of issues that should be covered in a separation agreement. Topics covered are relationship dates (beginning and end), disclosure of information, what happens to the family home, chattels, bank accounts, motor vehicles, super schemes, debts, adjustments, separate property, disclosure, independent legal advice, execution of documents, costs and witnessing/certification online.
The topics cover the issues that a standard relationship property or separation agreement should cover.
When do we need one?
When your marriage or civil union or de facto relationship comes to an end and you want to separate your property in a way which is legally binding and enforceable. This prevents arguments in the Court or elsewhere as to who is entitled to what and how much one person should pay the other. It should prevent one party later changing their mind and trying to get more property or money from the other.