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International News Archive
November 14 - November 20, 2001


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This page contains news for the period November  14 through November 20, 2001.



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Saturday, November 17, 2001

New Zealand’s new family law likely to unleash war of wills

A story published today by the New Zealand Herald reports that New Zealand’s Matrimonial Property Act will be replaced in February by the new Property (Relationships) Act.

The new act, which covers married, de facto and same-sex partnerships of three years or more, will effectively split relationship property down the middle, unless alternative legal arrangements have been agreed to by both parties.

Lindsay Pope, general manager of the Public Trust's special business unit, says that when a person dies their partner can choose to take what is left to them in the will or, if they are unhappy with that, seek what they are entitled to under the law.

The other two main pieces of legislation used to make a claim are the Family Protection Act and the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act.

Under the Family Protection Act there is a moral obligation to provide for a partner and children.

Although it is not common for people to turn their backs on their family, it does happen.

And when it comes to challenging the will, being family does not automatically mean you will receive a share of the estate.

Lawyer Bob Eades says families who have not seen eye-to-eye can reduce the chances of a claim.

"There are an awful lot of contrary and disappointed people, and there's nothing worse than a family that is being rent asunder because they think either they haven't got enough or that someone else has got too much."

"If you are going to leave someone out, let's get a record of the reasons you are doing it, because when you die that can be produced," he says.

"Very often I would say, sit down and write it out in your own handwriting, then that can be handed on to the judge if there is an argument after you die."

Another avenue used to contest a will is if a person has been promised something and ends up with nothing.

Mr. Pope gives the example of an elderly person with no close relatives in New Zealand who promised the helper who did the lawns and the shopping something in the will. But he or she forgot to change it.

Rather than go through a costly court battle, many cases are settled through mediation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Single Australian heterosexual women to gain access to in-vitro treatment

A story released today by ABC News (Australia) reports the Western Australia Parliament is proposing to introduce a bill that will focus on giving homosexual people equal rights, but would also remove the requirement for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment patients to be part of a heterosexual couple.

Attorney-General Jim McGinty says the bill to amend 18 acts of Parliament would lower the age of consent for gay men to 16 years and grant same sex partners recognition in law covering superannuation and deceased estates.

"We will also be extending to all medically infertile women access to IVF, we will be removing the invalid provision which seeks to discriminate against people on the basis of marital status," he said.


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