Man pays $3.1m to 'gold digger' ex

A SUNSHINE Coast builder who made a fortune in Far North Queensland following Cyclone Larry has been ordered to give three-quarters of his fortune to his ex-wife.

The Australian newspaper has reported the unnamed builder will have to pay his ex-wife $3.11 million, despite the Family Court being told the woman’s own mother was worth an estimated $16.7 million.

The father of twin girls, who were 16 months old when the couple separated after a two-year marriage, has also been ordered to pay $600 a week for the girls plus half their private school fees.

He also agreed to stop labelling payments to his ex-wife as “payment to gold digger” on bank statements.

The court was told he was angry at having to make regular payments because, he said, most of his money was made after the couple broke up in 2006.

The court heard his construction business was valued at about $300,000 before Cyclone Larry whipped through Queensland in March 2006, but his company had “made something like $3 million as a consequence of work generated by Cyclone Larry”.

His counsel argued that he should keep a larger slice of the marital assets because it was “not simply a case of the husband being in the right place at the right time” but rather of his having special skills that enabled him to take advantage of the business opportunity presented by Cyclone Larry.

The court heard the husband had tried to hide his newfound wealth from his ex-wife and had marked small payments to her as “gold digger” so that they turned up that way on her bank statements.

The court ordered a 75-25 split in favour of the wife.

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