Wife says sugar daddy husband ‘repulsed’ her
A PROSTITUTE who married a client twice her age despite finding him "repulsive" has lost a court battle for spousal support from her ex-husband after a judge found there was no reason she could not get a job.
The couple, identified only by pseudonyms Mr and Ms Higgins, first met in 2006 aged 64 and 31 when she was charging $1500 a night as an escort. Their commercial relationship eventually turned into a "friendship", and she ceased charging an hourly rate.
"We agreed that it was inappropriate given the intimate nature of our relationship and we discussed him purchasing a house for me in the future if things kept going well between us," Ms Higgins told the Family Court.
Throughout this phase of their relationship, Mr Higgins "feted" Ms Higgins by buying her clothes and shoes, paying for her Botox treatments, breast enlargement and lip injections.
He also paid for her rent, clothing for her daughter and on occasion school fees, despite Ms Higgins living in a de facto relationship with the father of her daughter.
"That relationship must be seen as unusual, if not unique," Family Court judge Paul Cronin said, noting that it was a "curious friendship" given how Ms Higgins described him.
"He repulsed me in every way, but the life I led supported my family and I endured what the applicant did to me for the benefit of my [family]," she told the court. "I needed the money to support my family."
Mr Higgins gave evidence, however, that he formed a "deep relationship of love and affection" for Ms Higgins. In 2010, he bought her $1.12 million house and a $1 million house for himself nearby. In 2012 they got married - but never lived together - before divorcing in 2015.
Much of the Family Court case revolved around whether the money for the house was a loan or a gift. In December 2015, Mr Higgins lodged a legal bid to have the house transferred back to him, while Ms Higgins submitted a cross-claim to have the home declared hers and for her ex to pay her spousal maintenance of $341,978.
Ms Higgins claimed that due to having to spend time with Mr Higgins she lost opportunities to work as an escort. She claimed she made "sacrifices" and "endured" his behaviour because she believed he would buy her a house.
"That endurance included talking with him each night that she was away from him and reassuring him of her interest in him by replying to his text or email messages. She bought him gifts, but with his credit card," Justice Cronin said.
Ms Higgins submitted that she currently receives Centrelink payments of $294 per week, has weekly expenditure of $2625 and $31,682 in credit card debt and virtually no savings.
In his decision, Justice Cronin rejected her bid for spousal maintenance and ordered her to repay Mr Higgins $180,000, from the sale of her house if necessary.
"Her dependence was a choice with which both parties were content," he said. "For so long as she kept him content, she benefited through the payment of her rent, various sums of money and gifts
"The respondent argued that she did not have the qualifications or skills in order to engage in employment - but what employment? Her evidence was that she had left the escort business and when she endeavoured to return to it, she had not been successful.
"Thankfully, the logic behind that assertion was not explored.
"However, there was a curious silence by the respondent about what she could do. There was nothing said about endeavours to obtain positions that might have been entirely within her skills and capacity, whatever they might be."
Justice Cronin said when people who live in expensive houses cannot support themselves, they "presumably rationalise their capital positions and live within their means".
"The respondent lives in inner Melbourne in a house the value of which exceeds $1 million," he said. "There is no evidence of any necessity to live in that area.
"There is no evidence of her pursuing employment opportunities that are beyond her physical grasp as a result of transport difficulties to outer Melbourne areas. There is no evidence to show that she could not sell the house and live more cheaply or even rent a property."