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Fairbank v Fairbank [2020] NZFC 2079

Published 23 September 2022

Application for spousal maintenance — reasonable needs — ability to pay — family home — employment — childcare — Family Proceedings Act 1980, ss 63 & 65 — Property (Relationships) Act 1976. The applicant sought spousal maintenance from the respondent, following the end of their 18-year relationship. The applicant had the day-to-day care of the parties' three children and had been unemployed since the birth of their first child 13 years before. Her entire income came from benefit and child support payments. The respondent had lost his job in 2019 and moved from a $90,000 annual salary to income benefit payments of $319.49 per week. As a result, he argued he could not afford to pay the applicant spousal maintenance. He was currently training with an employer but not yet earning income. The parties owned two properties with a value of around $700,000 after mortgage obligations were sorted. The respondent wanted to sell them but the applicant refused to do so. The Judge declined to make an order as the respondent simply had no way of paying any spousal maintenance. Judgment Date: 23 March 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *