High Court of Australia
1: Stanford v Stanford [2012] HCA 52 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Proceedings to Alter Property Interests, Property, Property Settlement
Judges:  Bell JFrench CJHayne JHeydon J


Background: The husband and wife married in 1971. In December 2008, the wife suffered a stroke and moved into full time residential care. She was later diagnosed with dementia. The husband continued to provide for her care and set aside money in a bank account to meet the costs of her medical needs or requirements. He continued to live in the matrimonial home. In 2009, the wife (by one of her daughters as case guardian) applied to the Family Court for orders altering interests in the marital property between the wife and her husband. Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), a court can make a property settlement order if it is "just and equitable" to do so. At first instance, a magistrate ordered that the husband pay his wife $612,931, which represented the amount assessed as her contribution to the ma 
 
  [Legal Issue]The wife (on behalf of one of her daughters as case guardians), sought to have the family home sold, and half the proceedings to go to the daughters. The legal pretext to this action was the albeit involuntary physical separation of the couple. The husband was still residing in the family home, while the wife was moved into full time residential care because of a stroke and dementia. The husband argued that the bare fact of physical separation, when involuntary, does not on its own make it just and equitable to make a property settlement order.   [Court Orders]The Court held that there was no basis to conclude that it would have been just and equitable to make a property settlement order had the wife been alive. She had not expressed a wish to divide the property, a property settlement order would require the husband to sell the matrimonial home, in which he still lived, and the Full Court had found, on the material before the magistrate, that her needs were being met or could be met by a maintenance order. The bare fact of physical separation, when i     


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Contributions from Parents, Loan, Proceedings to Alter Property Interests, Property Settlement
Judges:  Burchardt FM


Background: The husband’s father had given the parties $240,000 towards the cost of buying acreage and building a house on the land. After the parties’ separation the father intervened in the proceedings and sought repayment of what he argued had been a loan. The husband agreed but the wife denied any loan, alleging that the payment had been a gift. 
 
  [Legal Issue]In one sense, the informal nature of these arrangements denies legal analysis. However, I do not think the contribution by the father was a gift. If someone gives you over a quarter of a million dollars, you tell the world about it. It is clear the wife never told her own parents or anyone else. Likewise, she never wrote a note of thanks, which an outright and clearly expressed gift would have been highly likely to have engendered. To the contrary effect, however, I do not think that the arrangements can properly be described as a loan in the ordinary sense. Loans, if nothing else, have terms as to repayment. ‘Loan’ is defined by the Butterworth’s Australian Legal Dictionary as: ‘The temporary transfer of an asset, usually funds, from a lender who controls the funds to a borr   [Court Orders]Money from husband’s father held to be neither gift nor compellably repayable loan but a contribution on husband’s behalf. As such the Federal Magistrate concluded that the $240,000 is not repayable.     


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