First significant economic disparity case since Scott v Williams

Lady Deborah Chambers QC appeared with her instructing solicitors, Isaak Hikaka and Emma Armstrong from LeeSalmonLong, for their client Mrs Romanes in regard to relationship property proceedings.  This was a long marriage with four children in which the bulk of the wealth of the family was owned by a company which the husband had incorporated before the relationship started.  The decision is salient in regard to issues relating to section 9A of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.  That section deals with contributions both direct and indirect towards the increase in value of separate property being in this case the husband’s shareholding in the asset owning company.

Romanes is also the first significant case applying the Supreme Court decision in Scott v Williams [2017] NZSC 185 in regard to a marriage which produced considerable wealth.  The Family Court ordered that income to be taken into account in undertaking a s 15 assessment for economic disparity was not just Mr Romanes’ taxable income, which was some $60,000 per year, but also included the drawings he took from the company which were applied towards living costs.  The decision is the subject of an appeal by Mr Romanes to the High Court which should be heard later this year.  The decision of her Honour Judge Wills can be found at [2020] NZFC 212.