An Auckland executive has lost a bid to keep a Maserati out of his property split with his former partner and to keep the engagement ring he gave her.

The wealthy pair, who were in a relationship for four years and had two children together, separated in 2011.

Legal action between them in the Family Court has been on foot for the last six years and in May a judge ruled on how their property should be divvied up.

Because of the age of the couple's children, Family Court rules mean the Herald cannot name the pair.


One of Family Court's findings was that a Maserati that the businessman bought just as the relationship started had become joint property during their time together.

Dissatisfied with that finding, the Auckland executive appealed it and other parts of the ruling to the High Court, where he squared off with his ex in October before Justice Anne Hinton.

The fight over the Maserati focused on whether or not it was a family chattel.

The businessman said the luxury Italian vehicle did not incur much mileage and that its use was so limited "it was just a toy".

The couple had a Toyota Rav 4 as their main family vehicle.

Justice Hinton, though, agreed with the Family Court that the Maserati was a family chattel.

Although the car was not a "daily runner", she said, it was driven about 3000km a year, which was not a negligible amount of use.

The businessman also claimed that a $20,000 engagement ring that he gave his then-parter was later re-gifted back to him.


He gave evidence that his partner "gave or threw the ring back and him and then would beg for it back".

He said that on the last occasion, namely at separation, she told him the relationship was over and gave the ring back.

His ex, on the other hand, said the proposition she gave the ring back was "ridiculous".

She said her former partner had taken the engagement ring back and either refused to return it or claimed that it was lost.

Justice Hinton, in her decision, upheld the Family Court's finding that the diamond ring was not gifted back to the businessman and remained the woman's separate property.

While losing the appeal over the ring and the Maserati, the businessman did win two other big parts of the case.

They dealt with whether the legal fees over his earlier divorce and child support payments should be relationship debts.

Justice Hinton overturned the decision on this point from the Family Court and found that they were relationship debts. Therefore, no compensation was payable because of them.

The businessman also successfully reduced the amount of interest he should pay his former partner by more than $100,000.

While it was set at about $165,000 by the Family Court, Justice Hinton reduced it to $42,000 after making adjustments.

Because of these two wins, Justice Hinton said the appeal had been "substantially successful" and awarded him costs.