In a marriage or a de facto relationship, lottery wins prior to and after separation remain property for the purpose of proceedings for final property settlement under the Family Law Act 1975. Lottery wins are considered property acquired through an unexpected or chance event without any direct effort on the part of either of the parties.
If the value of the pool of assets increases during a marriage or a de facto relationship due to external circumstances such as rezoning of a property or a lottery win rather than due to the activities and/or efforts of a party, it may be referred to as a windfall and a contribution.
The timing of the receipt of a windfall such as a lottery win may be highly relevant to the overall outcome of property proceedings. Although a lottery win is generally considered a contribution solely by the party who purchased the ticket, it may be relevant to the assessment of the future needs of each party.
The Court has held that where a winning lottery ticket was purchased during the marriage, it was a windfall and a contribution by both parties. The critical question is by whom the contribution was made. Where both parties are in receipt of an income and where the mode of the marriage or the relationship is based upon each party contributing their respective income to the partnership constituted by their marriage or de facto relationship, the purchase of the winning lottery ticket is regarded as a purchase from joint funds. Likewise, if one party is in receipt of an income while the other party is involved in domestic activities as the mode of the marriage or de facto relationship ordinarily adopted by the parties, the purchase of the winning lottery ticket is also regarded as a joint and equal contribution.
However, there are cases where a lottery win is not considered a joint or equal contribution by the parties to a marriage or a de facto relationship. For example, circumstances where the parties are living separate lives or parties have been maintaining separate finances. In such circumstances, the Court may adopt a two-pool approach, namely one pool for the lottery win or assets acquired from the lottery winnings and a second pool in respect of the balance of the assets that comprise the property pool.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?