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Man spends his money after separation/divorce - FCA judge not happy

The Daily Telegraph
11 October 2007

$15m divorce revengeBy Janet Fife-Yeomans

A businessman went on a $15 million spree, showering his mistress with first class travel, jewellery and designer clothes to stop his wife getting the family wealth.

The man, who cannot be named, bought a $4.5 million clifftop "weekender" and shelled out an extra $2.33 million for land for a tennis court in what a Family Court judge labelled a flagrant and reckless waste of money.

The 65-year-old splurged $217,697 on a "prestige car" for himself and a Jeep Cherokee and Range Rover for the mistress, embarking on a "wanton" lifestyle costing up to $153,000 a month.

Within five years of leaving his wife of 35 years the businessman, a health professional, had spent so much his city business had gone downhill, he had debts of more than $2 million and no one would give him credit.

The man's journey was one "pitted with rancour and bitterness", Justice Paul Guest said in his reasons for judgment handed down last week.

Justice Guest said that when the couple married in 1966, neither had any significant assets.

Together they built businesses, bought and sold real estate including two London homes worth $8 million and adopted four children.

When they separated in June 2001, he left a vengeful message on her answering machine.

"The desolation you are about to face you have never faced before," the message said.

Justice Guest said the man had already begun an affair with Ms L, a shop assistant, who gave evidence in court against him.

She said he wooed her relentlessly with expensive dinners, French champagne and designer clothes.

He moved her into a $665,000 house she had chosen, paid her $600 a week, bought her a $12,000 engagement ring and took her on luxury holidays to Europe staying at his "exclusive" club.

She said she believed he was separated until she took a call from his wife.

By mid-2002 he had grown tired of Ms L and evicted her. It was an episode of her life "she may well now regret", Justice Guest said.

In October 2006, the man married Ms M, 41, paying for a $24,000 honeymoon to Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. They live in rented premises.

Justice Guest said the husband had been underhand and reckless in his financial dealings since separating from his first wife, selling some property at a loss and creating a "depressing scenario".

He even tried to borrow $2.2 million against the $3.7 million family home without telling her.

The judge said the wife was seeking about $4 million, including the home, but should be entitled to more.

"This is a most unusual case and it may be said by some uninformed observer that such a result is not just and equitable," Justice Guest said.

He said the wife had to borrow against the home herself to pay a "staggering" legal bill of $998,698. The husband's legal costs were $724,476.

The judge gave the husband seven days to sign over to his wife assets worth about $4 million.

ON & ON (No. 11) [2007] FamCA 677 - 10/07/2007

FAMILY LAW PROPERTY - Division of matrimonial property - 30 year marriage- neither party had assets at the start of the marriage- considerable asset portfolio built up prior to separation including a Pharmaceutical Business, various trusts and companies which the wife estimated at $15 million as a pool- Husband asserted pool closer to $1.3 million- Husband systematically mismanaged and wasted joint funds post separating significantly reducing the available assets- Whether add-backs appropriate- determination of the disparate submissions as to the property pool value- husband's conduct at the hearing; whether there should be a Jones v Dunkel inference-relevance and treatment of the husband's appearance in person-treatment of husband's post separation financial conduct.

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FCA Source - Judgements (First Instance)

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