Hull v Hull [2016] NZFC 8634

Published 18 September 2019

Hull v Hull [2016] NZFC 8634 Relationship property division — date of commencement of de facto relationship — unequal division of relationship property — separation of property — income disparity compensation — treatment of conduct — Property (Relationships) Act 1976, ss 8, 13, 15 & 18A — Watson v Watson (1999) 19 FRNZ 24. Mr and Ms Hull appeared before the Court to solve a number of relationship property issues. These issues were: the date of commencement of their de facto relationship, whether relationship property should be divided unequally, whether the balance of Mr Hull's pension not used to purchase the family home is relationship property or partly relationship property and partly Mr Hull's separate property, whether compensation should be paid to Ms Hull for disparity of income at separation, valuation and division of relationship chattels; and the degree of compensation payable to Ms Hull in respect of post separation contributions. The parties produced little evidence on any of these issues. The Judge determined their de facto relationship had begun 7 months prior to the birth of their daughter, when Ms Hull moved into Mr Hull's rented accommodation, not 6 months later when they purchased a home together, as Mr Hull argued. Ms Hull submitted the property should be unequally divided under s 18A of the Property (Relationships) Act. This required proof of gross and palpable conduct that had an adverse effect on the value of the relationship property. Mr Hull had spent a significant amount of relationship money on prostitutes during the relationship. This was considered gross and palpable misconduct as Ms Hull was unaware of it and Mr Hull knew it was not an acceptable norm within their marriage. However, the judge also decided Mr Hull's pension was relationship property and this meant the amount of money used on prostitutes did not significantly devalue the relationship property (on the basis it was a small percentage of the total). No compensation could be given for disparity of income at separation as Ms Hull failed to produce any evidence. While the Judge noted it was possible to make a finding on facts without actual evidence, there was no proof of income and living standards disparity in this case. There was nothing to enable the Judge to make an assessment as to compensation even if a broad brush approach was adopted. Many efforts had been made to value the chattels each party had in their possession, but these efforts had failed due to various excuses made by the parties. The Judge ordered that the same valuer would value each party's chattels and the party with the more valuable chattels would pay the other one half of the difference in value. Ms Hull claimed compensation for repairs of two relationship vehicles, drums purchased for their daughter's birthday, washing of the house and repair of guttering for sale and fencing work. No evidence of the car repairs was given. Mr Hull also never agreed to buy the drums for their daughter. The Judge ordered that Mr Hull was only liable to pay for half of the repairs and work on the house in preparation for its sale. Mr Hull claimed compensation for some $11,000 removed from a company account by Ms Hull. The Judge ordered Ms Hull reimburse Mr Hull half of the sum. Finally, Mr Hull was to immediately pay his arrears for child support to Ms Hull. Judgment Date: 14 October 2016.