$400k payment to ex-wife ordered

The Court of Appeal has ordered a former Queenstown man to pay his ex-wife $400,000 as well as costs for the ''complex appeal''.

It has also ordered Stephen Timothy Biggs disclose some documents to his former wife, Sophie Annabelle Biggs, to identify his involvement in a business during their six-year relationship, and ascertain if she is entitled to a share of its financial gains.

Ms Biggs initially went to the High Court to get her share of an estimated $59 million from her former husband in their divorce fight.

The couple, who began living together in 2010 and had a child before separating in 2016, had lived in an $8.6 million home on Closeburn Station.

That home is on the market and both now live in Australia.

The Court of Appeal decision, dated November 30, said Mr Biggs, a former commodities trader, was ''already wealthy'' when the relationship began - his former wife estimated his assets were then worth about $A20 million ($NZ21.1 millon).

While they were together, his principal business was as a fund manager for unit trusts which invested in Australian farms.

She was a secondary or eligible beneficiary in two of the trusts and said his net worth more than doubled during their relationship.

Ms Biggs claimed an interest in those gains on grounds including her contributions to the business through her ''performing the role of homemaker and caregiver for the couple's child, by entertaining corporate clients, and by assisting and supporting the husband with his various business ventures''.

Mr Biggs, however, said he shared parenting duties equally; his wife did not contribute to his work with clients; his role at one of the companies was not unduly time-consuming; and he exited that role when the couple moved to Queenstown so ''no question arose'' of her contributing by ''releasing his time for business purposes''.

Ms Biggs had sought further documents and information to give weight to her claim, but following a hearing in the High Court at Invercargill, Justice Gerald Nation, refused that.

The Court of Appeal said she initially sought 124 categories of documents but material subject to the appeal fell into 20 categories.

The court allowed the appeal in part, ordering discovery of some documents, including those which would identify Mr Biggs' role in the business during the relationship to gauge his extent of commitment to it.

''It will not disclose anything about the wife's contribution, but the husband has put his own commitment to the business in issue by denying that the wife released his time to attend to it ..."

It also found Justice Nation's approach to the interim payment of $200,000 was ''too conservative'' and ordered Mr Biggs pay $400,000 to his ex-wife.

''The wife has a credible claim to an interest in the husband's separate property, she is in need of funds for the litigation, and the payment will be set off against the interim distribution to the wife from the pending sale of the home ... ''

On costs, while most of Ms Biggs' requests for discovery were declined, her success was ''sufficiently substantive to warrant costs in the usual way''.

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