High Court of Australia

Stanford v Stanford [2012] HCA 52

247 CLR 108; 87 ALJR 74; 293 ALR 70

15 Nov 2012

Case Number: P23/2012


French CJ, Hayne, Heydon, Kiefel, Bell JJ


Family law – Family Court – Jurisdiction – Proceedings to alter property interests – Husband and wife lived apart after wife admitted into full time residential care – Husband continued to live in matrimonial home and provide financially for wife's care – Husband and wife had separate wills in favour of their children from earlier marriages – Wife by case guardian applied for order altering interests in marital property between husband and wife – Wife died before Full Court of Family Court delivered judgment and daughters continued proceeding as wife's legal personal representatives – Whether "matrimonial cause" within definition of Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) – Whether there was power to make property settlement order.

Family law – Proceedings to alter property interests – Property settlement order – Death of either party to pending proceedings – Whether it would have been just and equitable to make property settlement order had wife remained alive – Whether still appropriate despite wife's death to make property settlement order.

Constitutional law (Cth) – Powers of Commonwealth Parliament – Whether provision for adjudication of claim for property settlement order continued by legal personal representative is law with respect to marriage under s 51(xxi) or matrimonial causes under s 51(xxii).

Words and phrases – "intact marriage", "involuntary separation", "just and equitable", "moral obligations".

Constitution – s 51(xxi), (xxii).

Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) – ss 4(1), 39(2), 43(1), 74 75, 79.

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