The Family Court has rejected the wife's claim for $278,000 a month in spousal maintenance for herself and her only son, who has been described in court documents as the little Prince.
The wife, who cannot be named, applied for the money before a final settlement from her husband, whose wealth has been estimated at between $77 million and $110m. She also wanted a $24m property settlement, including a $3.3m chalet in Switzerland, and $1.2m a year to pay for four full-time carers for their son, who has autism.
She has already extracted $16m from the pool of marital assets but told the court the money had been used on legal fees and living expenses, and she needed more to cover her costs pending a final settlement.
The case, known as Strahan and Strahan, is one of the most expensive divorces in Australian history.
The couple from Adelaide met in the late 1980s and married in 1994, and their only child was born in 1996. The wife claims the teenager needs the support of four full-time carers, three of whom are her own siblings, who are being paid $110,000 a year.
That claim is contested by the husband's legal team. In an earlier hearing, there have been 28 so far the court heard that the boy had become very much the little Prince in his home, where paid helpers work to fit around him.
A child psychologist, who cannot be named, said the boy operated in a comfort zone, where he basically gets his own way most of the time. The expert said the care of the boy had become a cottage industry for the wife's family members. They accompanied him to school and wherever else he went, including on holidays. The wife is convinced the boy needs to be shadowed by staff to manage his urges, interests, tantrums, arousal and excitability.
But the expert said the boy made his greatest gains in terms of his ability to relate to others and make his way in the world when he was pushed out of his comfort zone. He also said many in the wifes extended family had made a career out of their involvement with the little prince phenomenon.
The father, whose declared income is $300,000 a week, and who has been living in Hong Kong with his new wife since 2008, has been fighting in court since 2007 to see his son. The court has tried to set up meetings, but the wife has failed to deliver the boy, saying he becomes extremely anxious when told he must see his father.
In the most recent hearing of the matter, before judge Christine Dawe in Adelaide, the wife made her claim for $278,000 a month in spousal support backdated to 2005. The husband proposed paying $10,788 a week or $560,000 a year for the boys care and education. He recently paid $691,000 into a trust fund to cover bills.
The wife backed her claim with a statement of recent expenditure, showing $4624 spent on balloons and flowers for the child's 14th birthday party, and $97,000 for a new car, although she has one valued at more than half a million dollars. Her legal fees to queens counsel were listed at $125,000 a month during the trial. Her own weekly expenses were put at $6254 a week, including $2300 for holidays, and $800 for clothes.
The wife's claim for an interim property settlement was rejected pending the full hearing, as was the claim for $278,000 a week in spousal maintenance.The court did, however, grant her $375,000 in a lump sum, pending the full hearing, which may be held later this year.