Chapters

The Browns

Mr Brown was employed in a secure job with a high income and generous superannuation benefits. He left his wife, Mrs. Brown, after 28 years of marriage and later remarried. The three children of the marriage have all left home and are financially independent. Mrs. Brown is undertaking a training course in naturopathy which will lead to job prospects in two years, although she suffers from a kidney complaint which will restrict her working hours. The judge has ordered that the matrimonial home should be sold and the proceeds divided evenly. As for maintenance, the following matters need to be considered:

  • Mrs. Brown's health;
  • her inability to gain employment for at least two years;
  • the likely accommodation required by Mrs. Brown;
  • Mr. Brown’s obligations to his second wife;
  • Mrs. Brown's ineligibility for a payment (studying full-time but her course is not recognised for the purposes of Austudy);
  • her contribution to her husband’s current financial situation;
  • Mrs. Brown's lost expectations of sharing in Mr. Brown’s retirement benefits;
  • the effects of 28 years of marriage on Mrs. Brown’s earning capacity;
  • the possibility of Mrs. Brown remarrying; and
  • the effect of the order concerning the matrimonial home.

The judge made an order that Mr. Brown should pay $1000 maintenance per month and a lump sum of $10,000 to help Mrs. Brown find alternative accommodation. The Judge indicated that Mr. Brown would be able to ask the Court to reduce or cancel the $1000 per month order once Mrs. Brown was able to take up employment.

The Whites

Mr. and Mrs. White were married in 1986 and separated in 1994. Mr. White was ordered to pay $70 weekly maintenance for Mrs. White who was unemployed. There were no children. The parties were divorced in 1996. Mr. White then remarried and had a child by his second wife. In 1998, Mr. White applied for the maintenance order to be varied, on the basis that his financial position had deteriorated and that his second wife could not work because of the child. Mrs. White at this stage was capable of earning $200 per week, but was not in fact working. The Court decided that, given the first wife’s capacity for employment, the maintenance payable be reduced from $70 to $20 per week.

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