Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Two-year battle in rich list divorce

Deborah Hollings, QC, who charges $1000 an hour, is representing Mr B in the divorce case. Photo / Supplied
Deborah Hollings, QC, who charges $1000 an hour, is representing Mr B in the divorce case. Photo / Supplied

A rich-lister been ordered to pay his ex-wife $1800 a week in the latest twist to what could be New Zealand's most expensive divorce case.

The couple, who have name suppression, have waged a two-year legal battle that has included allegations of dognapping, infidelity and theft as they squabbled over entitlements to the ex-husband's family fortune.

The couple were married for decades before their separation a couple of years ago.

About the same time, the wife - referred to as Ms A - was diagnosed with a medical condition.

In court documents, she said she needed $128,000 a year to be "properly supported". Her annual living expenses included nearly $10,000 for medical bills and $1750 for vet fees and pet food for her dogs.

Her lawyer, Gabrielle Wagner, told the court: "While this budget might, to the ordinary New Zealander, seem excessive, it reflects the standard of living and the pattern and type of expenditure for this couple when they were together."

Mr B initially paid her maintenance of $1000 a week but cut this off in May 2010.

Since then, Ms A said she had been living in relative squalor in their $3.25 million marital home.

The warring former couple have outstanding legal bills of $800,000. Deborah Hollings, QC, who charges $1000 an hour, is representing Mr B.

Judge Jan Walker said: "The parties had an affluent lifestyle involving extensive travel, expensive motor vehicles, substantial art collecting, a wine cellar estimated to be worth at least $200,000 and assistance in domestic and household management.

"Certainly, measured against the average household, they lived extremely well."

In court documents, the messy saga includes allegations Ms A was burgled by a man who was supposed to be a live-in minder.

It also revealed she struck up a romantic relationship with a private investigator who was being paid by her father.

"Ms A indicated that she had possibly used [name suppressed] in their sexual relationship to move on from her fixation on the happy relationship she had enjoyed with Mr B." Judge Walker ordered Mr B to pay his ex-wife $46,800 over the next six months.

Among the assets needed to be split are an extensive art collection and $200,000 worth of fine wines.

He also ordered the couple to sell their $3.25 million Auckland home. The couple also share custody of their two dogs, whose names and types are not allowed to be published.

The order came after one of the family dogs was allegedly kidnapped from the street.

Since the breakup, Mr B, who holds a senior political position, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on romancing his new girlfriend.

The pair have enjoyed holidays in Europe, a cruise in the Pacific and shopping trips to Asia.

A final settlement is expected to be reached next year.

Both parties declined to comment.

- Herald on Sunday

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