Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Fighting divorcees each get $1m payout

The pair, who separated in 2012 after more than two decades of marriage, cannot be named for legal reasons. Photo / Getty Images
The pair, who separated in 2012 after more than two decades of marriage, cannot be named for legal reasons. Photo / Getty Images

A former husband and wife who owned multi-million dollar properties in Auckland, Sydney and Europe are fighting over the split of their assets.

The pair, who separated in 2012 after more than two decades of marriage, are to each receive a payout of A$1 million ahead of their dispute heading to the High Court next year.

They can not be identified for legal reasons.

During their marriage, the couple built up substantial assets in New Zealand and Australia.

These assets included a central Auckland home, which was sold in 2012 and the proceeds kept by the wife.

The woman says she received $4.2m while her ex-husband said she got almost $6m from the property.

They also owned a Sydney home which was sold. The husband retained about A$4.2m ($4.5m) from its sale.

The former couple also hold shares in a company that owns another Sydney property (valued at between A$1.2m and A$1.7m)

The couple also have a jointly-owned term deposit with $A2.4m in it and a family trust that holds A$3.4m.

The woman in June sought a A$2.4m interim distribution from their assets to meet debt, and her living and legal costs.

The man argued both of them should get an interim distribution of $A450,000 and claimed that a payment near the sum sought by his ex-wife could not be justified.

That was because, he claimed, it would likely exceed her final entitlement. He would not "die in a ditch" to resist an interim payment of A$1m to each of them, the court heard.

Justice Peter Woodhouse said an appropriate allowance for living expenses was $250,000.

"It is a sum which would appear to be reflective of the standard of living the parties enjoyed when together," he said.

On her level of debt, the judge said her liabilities were uncertain and different affadavits had put them at different levels.

The woman said that her legal costs were about $75,000 a month.

Justice Woodhouse believed an allowance for litigation costs should not exceed $500,000 and when combining that with payments for debt and living expenses the total was $963,000.

While the woman opposed her ex-husband getting a A$1m distribution, the judge was not persuaded her arguments justified him getting paid any less than her.

Justice Woodhouse ordered last month that both sides should each be paid A$1m from their joint account.

- NZ Herald

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