Christmas has come early for divorce lawyers

via Toon Pool

via Toon Pool

One good thing about our no-fault-divorces is that it takes a lot of arguing out of the already ugly process of splitting one life into two – and all the assets that go with it.  Everyone knows this going in – it if all ends, you end up with half.  This always hurts one party more than the other, but they are clear and well established rules.

Until now.

A Wellington woman who gave up her career to support her family has won 70 percent of the money from the fallout of her marriage in a landmark case expected to change the face of divorce settlements in this country.  

The woman will receive about $1.3m in a case that resets the bar for compensation to stay-at-home parents, 11 years after a law change aimed at reducing economic disparity was passed.

There have been few watershed decisions that address the often yawning gap in income between couples when one half has stayed at home while the other continued a career and the case was a “move in the right direction”, Otago University law professor Mark Henaghan said.

The woman, a nurse, separated from her surgeon husband in December 2008 after 28 years. He had been caught having two affairs.

If you are angry enough, and you have deep pockets, it’s now open season on getting much more than half.

I’m sure a few dozen champagne bottles were popped at legal offices all around the country.

The only winners here are the legal profession.


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  • Michael

    I see no need for the settlement to be anything other than 50/50 as she would have got assets worth $900k. Hardly small change and will get a nice house in a desirable suburb in Wellington – and still leave several hundred thousand of capital.

    However, if the couple had children still in the house then I could understand the disparity argument could apply – but they must be all over 18 years old now.

    • Betty Swallocks

      Does “Hell hath no fury, etc …” ring any bells? You may not see any need for it, but then again, you’ve probably never pissed a woman off to the extent that she will extract every ounce of revenge that she can, just because she CAN.

      • Michael

        Oh, I have. She tried it on, but I told her lawyer where to go. I actually dared her to go to the Family Court as I said her claim was so outrageous and contrary to the law that I would table it in court immediately to show she was acting unprofessionally in her advice to her client – as the marriage only lasted two years she had to prove contribution to the assets.

        Not surprisingly, the next offer for a settlement was much more reasonable.

        • Betty Swallocks

          Well done. A man after my own heart. I retract my earlier comment.

          • Bruce S

            …not so fast; I was happy to lose +/- 70% of the “blissless” assets in my go round; just to be rid of her. And I’ve never been happier; best investment I ever made!

          • Betty Swallocks

            I know the feeling – I ended up, after 12 years of marriage to an abusive bullying bitch, being landed with a mountain of debt (hers), and as a single parent. Was a long time ago but I still wake up most mornings feeling lucky.

  • Ururoa

    Why does the working partner not get compensation for pain and loss for NOT being able to be around their children as often as they would have wanted, due to being away earning an income to support the family?

    • jedmo

      A good point, sadly it is out of fashion at the moment.

  • Ministry of Justice

    No fault divorce is wrong when there is fault.

    This guy should have got none of the marital assets.