Two women and a man who lived together in a polyamorous relationship sparked a bitter legal battle for the home they shared after they all broke up with each other.
Married couple Lilach and Brett Paul moved into a four-hectare farm in north-west Auckland on New Zealand‘s north island in 2002 after forming the relationship with Fiona Mead.
The throuple lived together with Mead for 15 years on the property in Kumeu – sharing a bed for most of that time and the latter being given a ring to mark their union.
Each of the three also formed other ‘secondary relationships’ with other parties during their time together.
Lilach (pictured, left) and Brett Paul (right) moved into a farm with Fiona Mead after starting a ‘throuple’ but they are now in a bitter legal battle
Mead worked as a vet during their time together and the Pauls between them ran paintball and lawnmowing businesses.
But Lilach separated from Brett and Mead in 2017 before the remaining couple broke up a year later, a family court ruling released on Friday revealed.
Mead continued living at the home after the split.
Over the 15-year relationship, the property – which had been bought in Mead’s name for $NZD533,000 ($AUD498,000) – had increased in value to $NZD2.1million ($AUD2million).
Lilach applied to New Zealand’s family court in 2019 to determine her share in the home under the Property Relationships Act.
Fiona Mead (pictured) was in a three-way relationship with married couple Lilach and Brett Paul, with them all living together on a farm
Mead had objected to the application and said their three-way relationship did not constitute a de facto relationship.
In a first-of-its-kind judgement the country’s High Court ruled the act could not be applied to multi-partner polyamorous relationships.
‘For all of the above reasons, not only does the Act on its face not apply to a polyamorous relationship such as the parties’, but it would be unworkable to stretch the legislation to ‘fit’ this case,’ Justice Anne Hinton said in her ruling.
A polyamorous relationship is one with more than one partner involved but with the consent of all three parties.