McDowell v McDowell [2020] NZFC 8148

Published 07 December 2020

Application for interim spousal maintenance — reasonable needs — Family Proceedings Act 1980, ss 82 & 182 — Ropiha v Ropiha [1979] 2 NZLR 245 (CA) — Hodson v Hodson [2012] NZFLR 252 — M v B [2006] 25 FRNZ 171, [2006] 3 NZLR 660, [2006] NZFLR 641 (CA) — RCK v DK CIV-2009-404-4421 (20 November 2009) — RKFT v DPLH [2012] NZFC 8276. This was an application for interim spousal maintenance pending outcome of the relationship property application pursuant to s 82 of the Family Proceedings Act (FPA). The respondent opposed the application. The parties had been married for 38 years and had two adult children together, one of whom lived with the applicant in one of the parties' properties along with his child. Due to the nature of the respondent's work, the parties had moved often internationally and the applicant had been a stay-at-home mother and had not fostered a career. The purpose of interim spousal maintenance is to meet the reasonable needs of an applicant until the final disposition of proceedings. There are no special conditions or criteria that must be applied, but a court has discretion whether to make an award and determine the amount, having regard to the particular circumstances of the case, the needs of the applicant for the period and the means available to the applicant. The standard of living assessed is based on the parties' standard prior to separation and is therefore case-specific. The Judge found no difficulty in concluding that the applicant had no income to meet her reasonable needs, having been a stay-at-home mother and who was currently supporting the parties' son, who had health issues, and his child. Based on the budget provided by the applicant, the Judge found her support level as being $3,674.30 per month. Turning to the evidence of the respondent's income and expenditure the Judge concluded, after making some adjustments, that the respondent had the ability to pay $4,258.71 per month. An interim spousal maintenance order for $3,700 was made in favour of the applicant, less the premiums paid by the respondent in respect of the insurance for the property in which he was living. Judgment Date: 25 September 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *