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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 23067
Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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My husband and I are on the way to getting a divorce. He's a

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Hi, my husband and I are on the way to getting a divorce. He's a CFO earning alot of money, I'm in a growing business not earning any income. We have a house between us, and he has put finances into the business, whilst I have put my time, effort and expertise into it over the last 4 years. I think he's going to try and sell the business (which is still making a loss at this point), and then divide everything in half, which will leave me with very little, and no income. Do you have any advise on what I can talk to him about re: this? Many thanks
JA: Because family law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Auckland, New Zealand
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: Not yet - very early dissapointed stage!!
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I don't think so?


I am a New Zealand lawyer based in Wellington and will help you with your question today

In cases like this where your business is at an early stage, it is unlikely to be worth very much. The big issue is the potential. But where you have given up your income to grow the business, and he has earned a high income, you may have an option of seeking lump sum compensation under the Property Relationships Act. So you would make a claim against his substantial income, and perhaps an exchange he can forgo any claim against your business

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thanks Chris, have you seen my questions?

15 Court may award lump sum payments or order transfer of property

(1) This section applies if, on the division of relationship property, the court is satisfied that, after the marriage, civil union,or de facto relationship ends, the income and living standards of one spouse or partner (party B) are likely to be significantly higher than the other spouse or partner (party A) because of the effects of the division of functions within the marriage, civil union, or de facto relationship while the parties were living together.

(2) In determining whether or not to make an order under this section, the court may have regard to—

(a) the likely earning capacity of each spouse or partner:

(b) the responsibilities of each spouse or partner for the ongoing daily care of any minor or dependent children of the marriage, civil union, or de facto relationship:

(c) any other relevant circumstances.

(3) If this section applies, the court, if it considers it just, may, for the purpose of compensating party A,—

(a) order party B to pay party A a sum of money out of party B’s relationship property:

(b) order party B to transfer to party A any other property out of party B’s relationship property.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Great, thanks Chris ........

The house property of course will need to be divided in the usual way. But you will need to take formal legal advice when it comes to reaching an agreement, because each of you will need to get independent legal advice. I assume your husband is an equal shareholder in the business, which must be why he is talking about selling this. But it's not quite as straightforward because of the effect of section 15 which I have pasted above

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
No, I am the only director of the business, but he controls the accounts unfortunately, and I don't have access.

Are you equal shareholders?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
No, he is not a shareholder either, but because he has 'held up' the business with his income, he has control of the accounts (which is one of the reasons we are headed down this track) :)

If he is not a shareholder or director, then by controlling the accounts he really has no power. There is nothing to stop you from acting as the director and taking over exclusive rights to the bank account and any trade accounts.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Unfortunately, we have our business loan over the house so all the accounts are integrated into a revolving credit facility, so he moves the money around and in and out of his personal accounts - can I separate them without him? We are both on title of the house, and the business account (the more I'm talking about this the sillier I feel!!)

Your key argument may be the ability to claim a lump sum from his income. But you may want to set up banking facilities in anticipation, and separate out the business from personal accounts. It may be premature, but you might want to consider a mediation to resolve the property issues, which would be very much faster and cheaper than going to court. If he is talking about selling the business under your feet, and shuffling money around to suit his own purposes, you can get freezing orders, but this may have a dampening effect on your business. So some urgent facilitated discussion may prevent this from getting too tied up in a court battle

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Can you recommend anyone up here?

You could try Jeremy Sutton

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Will do Chris, thank you so much for the advice, really appreciate it - I'll look him up.

Or Michael Headifen

Address: 199 Mount Eden Rd, Mount Eden, Auckland 1024

Phone: 09-638 6500

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Will do, many thanks :)

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