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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




At law, separation means a suspension by agreement or Court order of the obligation of husband and wife to live together. It is narrower than separation in popular usage, which may mean merely living apart, as when one spouse has deserted the other. Either spouse may obtain a decree of judicial separation in the Supreme Court on the grounds of adultery, cruelty, desertion for two years, or failure to comply with a decree for restitution of conjugal rights. Separation decrees are seldom sought. By contrast, separation orders in the Magistrates' Courts, almost invariably in favour of wives, are common. The available grounds are wilful failure to maintain, persistent cruelty, habitual inebriety, and conviction for assault or violence on wife or child.

by Bruce James Cameron, B.A., LL.M., Legal Adviser, Department of Justice, Wellington.

  • New Zealand, the Development of its Laws and Constitution, ed. Robson, J. L. (1954)
  • Sim's Divorce Law and Practice in New Zealand, Sim, W. J., and Keesing, P. (6th ed. 1954).