The author has been practicing law for over 30 years, this article is written with a cynical but blunt twist. If you feel that you may take offence when reading then please stop reading now. However, if you are of a more robust character please continue and learn from one's first hand experience.
OK we can’t make these painless (and advocating alcohol would be plain irresponsible), however we can give some sensible advice;
If you and your partner have agreed that you want to end your relationship. Try and agree between yourselves the "big picture" items:
Remember joint assets are just that, joint and they remain so until a settlement is reached and final ownership passes to one or the other of you. Until then neither has any greater right to the use and/or to have the occupation thereof, than the other. I had one situation whereby our clients ex relationship partner moved the new boyfriend into the relationship home and insisted on using our client’s, (who was by that stage sleeping in a different bedroom), ensuite each morning!
Oh yeah, and beware the curtain rail. Another of the firm’s clients ex relationship partner found it funny to put sardines in the curtain rails before shifting out! Another good one is a cough lozenger in the shower rose head or disinfectant in the septic tank. Hopefully most people will be more mature than this, but it cannot always be guaranteed.
Always, always, always, always, always, and yes always, find out what your legal rights are. Even you are the only one in 50 billion squidillion, famillion (I have no idea at all if these are actual words!) of couples separating that are going to be perfectly civilised about it and you are parting as BFF (my eight year old daughter once told me this means Best Friends Forever), or it was you that shagged the neighbour and you feel like pooh (and I don’t mean as in Winnie), you owe it to yourself to find out what your rights are. Whether or not you actually enforce those is over to you, but at least you will have made an informed decision. This is especially true if you are being victimised, dominated or made the subject of an abusive relationship (and here I am speaking as much to guys as to females, as husband bashing is very much alive and well in New Zealand – albeit one that because of male pride, does not get as much attention as it deserves). You owe it to yourself and any children you have to make an informed decision about what your current and future entitlements are.
Try and get clarity on all relevant issues and give your solicitors clear instructions so that they can prepare a property relationship agreement recording your separation and the agreement reached. Both of you will need separate advice on the agreement, but at least if you can agree the terms of the “big picture” in advance, then the additional cost incurred in having that thrashed out by your lawyers will be avoided. Do “NOT” try and do this yourself. Agreements entered into without each party having separate legal advice and solicitors certificates to this effect, are completely worthless and open to being revisited by either party at any time. This is a false economy and one that invites major problems (aka expense) later on.