Blended families are not without their challenges. Ensuring everyone is happy can take time and patience.

It’s equally important to make sure you have your legal affairs in place – if you don’t have the right legal structures in place when you embark on a new relationship, your children could end up missing out further down the line.

Once you are in a de facto relationship for three years or longer, the general position under New Zealand relationship property law is that the family home and chattels of the relationship are to be divided equally if the relationship ends.

This means if a new partner moves into the home that you own and you later split up, you could end up having to buy him or her out. If you cannot afford to do this, you may have to sell the home.

If you have children from a previous relationship, their inheritance is effectively halved in this scenario.

Even buying a house together can have unintended consequences for children in blended families.

For example, if you record your ownership as joint tenants, the rule of survivorship applies – that is, if you pass away your partner inherits the whole property and any assets jointly owned.

Whether your children receive a share and/or how much is in the hands of your surviving partner. 

With the right legal advice, a balance can be struck from the outset, to ensure that children from previous relationships are not excluded from what they may have expected to be their inheritance.