In family law cases it depends on when the lottery was won and who paid for it. If the ticket was purchased using joint funds when the parties were together then most courts will rule that the money is a joint asset. However, there are exceptions and all cases are dependent on the individual facts of each case.
IN a decision that surprised some, the Family Court has ruled that a husband can keep the fortune he won playing Tatts Lotto during the first year of a decade-long relationship on the grounds he chose the numbers, purchased the ticket and, most importantly, cashed the cheque into his person bank account.
The wife complained that she had received only $51,000.00 in a property settlement from her husband, despite him having more than one million in the bank. Most of that money was lottery winnings.
The Court heard that the wife then 35, and her husband, then 57, started living together in 2003 and married in 2007. Both had been married previously.
The husband owned his own home outright at thte time they got together and had $110,000.00 in superannuation. The wife had 3 children, then aged 3, 6 and 9, a mortgage and a credit card debt.
During their relationship, they had decided to keep their finances separation, and never opened a joint bank account.
Twelve months into the marriage the husband, using numbers used in his family since at least 1995, won $620,000.00 in the lottery. He put the money in a term deposit in his name, along with savings, and an inheritance from his mother. At the time of the Court hearing, it was then worth more than one million dollars.
In 2011 the husband had a stroke that left him almost blind, and unable to drive or read. He now requires kidney dialysis three times a week, and paid carers assist him with various household tasks. The wife left about a year after the stroke.
The argued that “the marriage was almost 10 years duration. They did things jointly. There was a common togetherness, there was a common joint venture that they were in a marriage. That’s what their relationship was about….a common use of the property”.
The evidence, however, suggested the couple kept their assets and their finances separate from each other, and did not ever have any joint bank accounts.
In dismissing the wife’s appeal, the court conceded that while she had “clearly made non-financial contributions to the relationship (such as) cooking, cleaning and gardening” the husband had helped by picking up her children after school when she was working. The Court also noted that the husband had no obligation to provide for the children since they were not his children but were his step children.
If you need advice regarding a Family Law matter, call Ruth Single on 02 4324 7699.