Mr. and Mrs. Stanford were physically separated although remained married due to health problem of Mrs. Stanford which requires permanent full time care. The Federal Circuit Court ruled that the couple were separated for the purpose of Family Law although they did not intend to separate.
When Mrs. Stanford suffered a stroke in 2008 she was placed in a full time care facility while Mr. Stanford remained in their house worth $1.375 million. He visited his wife three times a week.
Mrs. Stanford’s daughter from her previous marriage questioned the care given by the facility to her mother and alleged that it was inadequate and proposed that her mother be transferred to a nearby aged facility care which requires a $300, 000.00 bond. When she found out that there was no fund to finance the care of her mother in the said facility, she moved that the house be sold and part of it will go to her mother’s care. She initiated the property settlement of the couple’s property in court and alleged that they were separated and moved for the selling of the house.
In the initial hearing, the Federal Circuit Court ruled that the couple were separated for the purpose of Family Law although they did not intend to separate. The reason for this decision was based on the fact that all the elements of marital relationship ceased to exist between the couple and that they will never leave together again. It ordered the house of be sold and the $612, 000.00 go towards the care of the wife.
Children of Mr. Stanford opposed the decision and appealed to the Full Family Court. They questioned the jurisdiction of the magistrate court to make an order for separation and property settlement of the couple who did not intend to separate.
The Full Court disagreed with the issue of jurisdiction. It upheld the decision of the magistrate court and held that the court has the power to make an order for property settlement. But overturned the decision on the lump sum amount and finds that the magistrate court exceeded its discretion and failed to consider the fact that Mrs. Stanford’s health is deteriorating and moving her to a high care facility will no longer benefit her. Mrs. Sanford does not also need the lump sum for her financial future because of her failing health condition.
This case depicts the reality that elderly couple who were physically separated because of health reason are deemed separated for purposes of Family Law although they remained married and did not intend to separate.