Waters v Campbell [2019] NZFC 6516

Published 14 December 2020

Interim spousal maintenance — period of separation — Family Proceedings Act 1980, ss 15, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66 & 82 — Ropiha v Ropiha [1979] 2 NZLR 245 (CA) — RKFH v DPLH [2012] NZFC 8276 — Hodson v Hodson [2012] NZFLR 252. The applicant sought an order for interim spousal maintenance after the respondent, her former partner, had reduced payments to her from $8500 per month to $4909. The amount of $4909 covered the mortgage over the former family home and child support. The applicant was living in the family home and was the primary caregiver of the parties' two children. She was unemployed and ran a business that had not made any profit in the four years since it was established. Section 82 of the Family Proceedings Act (the Act) provides for interim spousal maintenance to be made in favour of a party who has inadequate means to meet their current circumstances. The key matters requiring consideration under s 82 are: the reasonable needs of the applicant over the period of the order; means available to the applicant to meet those needs themselves; the respondent’s reasonable means to meet any shortfall and their reasonable needs; the ability of the respondent to be able to meet the reasonable needs of the applicant; and whether the court ought to exercise its discretion to make an interim order. There was no issue that the respondent, who had earned over $260,000 the previous year, could afford to pay for maintenance. He submitted he should not have to pay the amount sought by the applicant given that they had separated over two and half years ago. The Judge examined the parties' budgets and noted they were both living outside their means and would both have to reduce their spending. Payments of $8500 per month would mean the applicant received more than half of the respondent's net income. The Judge determined a fair amount of maintenance was $6209 per month. This would cover the mortgage, child support and an extra $300 per week for other costs the applicant had. Judgment Date: 19 August 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *