My ex won the lotto - what about me?

The effect of a lottery win on parties to a marriage or a de facto relationship, depends on several factors.

For the purposes of family law proceedings, there is no presumption of an equal division of assets.

If a lottery win occurs during a long relationship and the proceeds are applied to joint matrimonial interests, the lottery win will usually be included in the overall value of the asset pool and divided accordingly.

Factors which will influence the outcome are defined as section 75 (2) factors. These factors include the capacity for a party to obtain gainful employment, age, health and any other relevant factors.

Case 1

A recent decision found that a lottery win of $620,000 in the first year of a decade long relationship was quarantined from the joint assets of the pool.

The reasons the Court gave was that there was clear evidence that the parties had kept their finances separate. In fact, the husband had kept the winnings in a separate account in his name solely with an inheritance that he received from his mother.

Case 2

In a more recent case, the parties had separated and reconciled on a number of occasions.

There were two children of the relationship and the parties had already been through Court proceedings for a parenting agreement of the first child prior to the wife winning the lottery.

The wife won the lottery during one of many separations. Prior to reconciliation, the wife asked the husband to sign a financial agreement, which meant that he didn’t receive any of the winnings.

The husband sought to have the agreement set aside on the grounds that the terms were not binding because the wife placed undue pressure on him to sign an agreement. The husband told the Court that the wife said he couldn’t spend any time with the children unless he signed the agreement.

The Court found against the husband, because they determined that as the parties had been involved in family court proceedings previously and he could have initiated proceedings again seeking time with the children.

The Court found that the agreement was legally binding and that the husband had the option of initiating court proceedings seeking an Order for time with the children as he had previous experience with the court process because he and the wife had been through the process previously.

With all matters in the family law jurisdiction, the outcome will always turn on the individual facts.

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