Elliot v Elliot [2018] NZFC 6632

Published 10 October 2019

Spousal maintenance — Ropiha v Ropiha [1979] 2 NZLR 245 — Hodson v Hodson [2012] NZFLR 252 — T v H [Spousal maintenance] [2006] NZFLR 560 — Richardson v Richardson [2012] 1 NZLR 769 — Collins v Collins [2014] NZHC 2121 — Family Proceedings Act 1980, s 82. The parties' marriage broke down and the applicant filed an application for interim and final spousal maintenance. The respondent opposed the application for interim maintenance, arguing that he was not liable for such payments. Section 82 of the Family Proceedings Act allows the court to make an order for payments for spousal maintenance. Under s 82, courts have unfettered discretion as to whether to make orders, and to set the quantum of orders. However the courts must have proper regard to the factors and circumstances of each case. Throughout the relationship, the applicant's primary role was homemaker, while the respondent worked in the IT industry. The applicant was attempting to find work but was struggling, given she had been out of the workforce for seven years. The respondent maintained a private bank account, and the parties had a joint account to cover family living costs. The respondent received his income into his personal account, meaning that he had funds available for his use. The parties also had a significant level of relationship debt, which the applicant had previously not known about. The respondent had additional major personal debts. The Court found that the parties had similar living situations, so their financial needs would also be similar. The Court estimated that the parties would have identical needs for multiple categories such as power, phone, food, clothing and education, and made deductions from the applicant's monthly expenses to reflect the respondent's child support payments. The Court ordered that the respondent make interim maintenance payments to the applicant of $2500 per month. Judgment Date: 6 September 2018. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *