The separation of an Australian couple has finally reached a conclusion, after 14 years of litigation. It included over sixty different hearings and more than $14 million in legal fees.

The wife, who was described as a vexatious litigant, went through sixteen different law firms, each of which either ceased to act or had their services terminated.

The Judge noted that the couple had been litigating about their marriage longer than they were married. During the course of the litigation the wife sought spousal maintenance at $278,000 per month. This sum was reduced to $26,000 after the Court found that the claim was excessive and unjustified.

In New Zealand, it is possible to obtain spousal maintenance either during or after a relationship has ended. However, the level of maintenance is that which is necessary to meet a parties reasonable needs where he or she cannot practicably meet the whole or any part of those needs as a result of:

  • The division of functions during a relationship;
  • The earning capacities of each party;
  • The standard of living of the parties during the relationship; and
  • Any other circumstances.

While it is unlikely that a party would require $278,000 per month in maintenance, it is important to know that there are measures available to support a party once the parties have separated.

Ben Ruback

Family Lawyer