Medical man's painful $1m divorce

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2014

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A wealthy Wellington medical specialist will lose more than $1 million to his ex-wife in a divorce settlement.

The man has lost his appeal against a Family Court decision to award 70 per cent of the $1.73m total property pool to the woman.

In the High Court at Wellington, Justice Lowell Goddard said, in a decision released yesterday, that the Family Court judge was right to award a bigger proportion of the money to the man's ex-wife because her career opportunities and earning potential were diminished while she stayed home to care for their children.

The man also had an appeal dismissed for 50 per cent compensation for payments made on the couple's house and bach, which have subsequently sold, totalling more than $1m.

The couple wed in 1984 and spent time in Sydney and England while the husband took up employment opportunities. They had one child at that time, and another later.

The woman gave up her job as a nurse to care for the children, while her husband pursued his career goals.

She now earned $26,238, while he earned between $800,000 and $1m a year, court documents said.

Goddard said the fact the woman stayed home to look after the children had reduced her chance to earn money now. She supported her husband while he studied and worked overseas, and her role as homemaker and caregiver for the children allowed him to establish a successful private practice.

"Standing back and looking at the situation of this partnership over its lengthy duration, there is little doubt that [she] assisted [him] in his career in tangible ways," the judge said.

"I am satisfied that the division of functions within the relationship both diminished [her] income-earning potential and enhanced [his] income-earning potential."

The man's appeal for compensation was dismissed because he consistently treated the house payments as part of his overall maintenance obligations.

He stated in 2011 that he had already paid more than $300,000 in maintenance payments to his wife since 2008, at a rate of $6500 a week. In 2012, he revised this to more than $1m.

This was to cover the cost of the mortgage and costs of the family home, in which his ex-wife lived, as well as her credit card expenditure and the outgoings of a family bach.

He asked for 50 per cent of that money back as both properties had since been sold, but this was dismissed. The judge said that, if his wife had known he planned to make the compensation claim, she could have, and probably would have, sold the properties earlier. Fairfax NZ

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