Harmans Lawyers

Colin Abernethy

LLB (Hons), BA
colin.abernethy@harmans.co.nz PA: chelsea.martyn@harmans.co.nz PH: (03) 379 7835

Colin has been practising law at Harmans since 2007 and was appointed a Partner in 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Laws with Honours and Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) from the University of Canterbury. He jointly leads our busy family law team.

Colin specialises in:

  • relationship property and spousal maintenance disputes.
  • the protection of assets prior to a relationship.
  • the division of assets upon separation including personally owned assets, companies and trusts.
  • care of children, guardianship and family violence disputes.
  • Family Court-appointed Lawyer for Child work. 
  • Colin is a lead legal aid provider.

Colin was elected Chairperson of the Christchurch Family Courts Association in 2015 and again in 2016. In March 2015 he was appointed Convenor of the Canterbury-Westland Family Law Committee (having started his term on that Committee in 2011). Following the conclusion of his term as Convenor in 2019, he was then appointed by the New Zealand Family Law Section as their Canterbury Regional Representative, that term ending in 2021. In 2022 Colin was appointed to the Executive Committee of the New Zealand Family Law Section, a role that he currently occupies and sees him advancing family law issues at a national level. 

In addition to his Family Courtroom experience, Colin is also a Collaboratively Trained Lawyer, being able to offer our clients an alternative litigation-free approach to resolving all issues that arise following a separation. In 2022 Colin was appointed to the national Collaborative Resolution New Zealand Executive Committee occupying Secretary and Chairperson roles.

Colin and his team are committed to supporting the community having completed volunteer work for a number of organisations including ‘It Takes a Village’. Colin has also provided legal advice to local preschools and served on the committee of the Christchurch Parent Centre.

Some of Colin’s recent work/projects include:
  • Obtaining a successful outcome and significant economic disparity compensatory award for our client in a complex relationship property case before the Family Court that involved multiple defended Court hearings.
  • Representing our client in a complex relationship property dispute involving a number of trusts and companies. 
  • Representing children in a multi-day hearing that included a cross-over of parenting and family violence issues with expert witnesses and senior counsel.
  • Being appointed as the only lawyer to the Ministry of Justice’s Working Group that is investigating a new operating model for Family Court cases involving co-parenting and family/sexual violence.