A High Court judge has rejected an appeal for a reduced amount of spousal maintenance after finding that the reasons for the appeal were invalid. The man appealed to the High Court after he was ordered to pay $17,000 a month to his ex-partner in June 2021.

When a couple separates, one partner may be obligated to financially support the other if one partner is unable to financially maintain their reasonable needs. This is known as spousal maintenance, and is usually a weekly or monthly payment from one ex-partner to the other.

The appeal was made on the basis that the initial judgment contained several errors which, if corrected, would result in a smaller sum to be paid by the man to his ex-partner:

  •  The man claimed that the Judge should have considered the first two orders made in the Family Court, in which the man was ordered to pay $1000 to his ex-partner every week. The Judge dismissed this, stating that each application for spousal maintenance will be considered on its own merits;
  •  The man also claimed that his income had decreased significantly towards the end of the marriage and that the Judge failed take this into account when deciding on the amount of spousal maintenance to award. This was dismissed as the initial judgment had factored in this loss of income when coming to the $17,000 figure;
  • The claim that the woman could have used the large sum of money she received from the sale of a company that the parties co-owned, towards maintaining her lifestyle and that she therefore didn’t need such a large amount of spousal maintenance. The Judge dismissed this, as it was unreasonable to expect the woman to use this money towards everyday expenses;
  • Lastly, the man claimed that he was unable to access $17,000 monthly to pay his ex-partner. The Judge found this to be incorrect, as the man had access to over $7 million, and total control as to how that money should be distributed.

The Judge dismissed his appeal, and upheld the current Order which required the man to pay $17,000 per month for 6 months to his ex-partner. As well as this, the Judge ordered that the man pay costs as a contribution to the woman’s legal fees.

Spousal maintenance negotiations can be time consuming and require a significant investment in getting it right. If issues occur regarding the payment of spousal maintenance, or you are considering making an appeal to the Courts, it is wise to seek advice from a professional experienced in the area.

 

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Shaun Cousins