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A Sporting Bet - Who Keeps Lottery Wins When Relationships Break Down?
04 November 2014
Even though the chances of a lottery win are about one in 45 million, ownership of lottery wins is still and issue lawyers and some separating couples need to deal with. Questions about any lottery wins are usually asked when you see a lawyer for advice about property issues, and most lawyers refer to them if they are preparing a Financial Agreement. If the chances of a significant lottery win are so low, you might ask why lawyers raise them at all?
In the recent case of Eufrosin & Eufrosin, the Court reviewed a decision by a Judge who found the lottery winnings purchased by a wife from a joint business account were not part of the pool of assets to be divided between the husband and wife.
The trial judge said that even thought the source of money for the ticket was a joint account, the husband made no contribution to it. This was an important finding, because it means it was then appropriate for the judge to exclude the lottery win from the pool of assets for division. The husband appealed the decision on this, and other grounds.
However, the Court decided that even though the source of the money to purchase the ticket was a joint account, the wife had bought the ticket after the parties had separated, and were living separate lives. The fact money from the business account was used was irrelevant, because the parties had already put in place an arrangement that saw them both withdraw money from the account and put it to their own uses.
The Court looked at other cases dealing with lottery wins, and confirmed that the decision whether lottery wins are included, or excluded from the pool turns on whether or not the parties' marriage relationship is still intact when the lottery win happens, and not where the money to buy the ticket comes from.
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