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In a Property Settlement is a Lottery Win to be Shared Equally Between the Separating Spouses?
In the case of Elford & Elford (2016), the Full Family Court dismissed the appeal of a wife who was seeking an increase from the 10% of the $1.4m asset pool she had been awarded, on separation, to 32%. A large part of the pool consisted of a lottery win of her husband. The wife, on appeal, argued that the Federal Circuit Court trial judge had incorrectly decided that the lottery win was a contribution by the husband rather than a “joint contribution” of them both.
The lottery win, which was $622,000, occurred 12 months into the 10-year relationship and was then placed in a deposit account in the husband's sole name for the duration. The husband also inherited $190,000 in the year of marriage, which he also kept separate. The trial judge had included the husband's savings in the asset pool but noted that the lottery ticket had been purchased independently, as he had done for 8 years prior to marriage and, importantly, that the two had led separate financial lives. Accordingly, the lottery win contribution was made by the husband.
The Court dismissed the wife’s appeal and held that Mr Elford was solely responsible for the financial contribution.
The Court effectively found that that marriage is not necessarily a joint financial enterprise. This case emphasises the importance of couples being clear as to their financial arrangements and the potential role of creating a Financial Agreement.
For more information about the division of assets in a property settlement or any other family law matter book a consultation with our Family Lawyer today or call (02) 9281 5088 for a free 10-minute consultation. You have nothing to lose and only something to gain by meeting with one of our experienced lawyers.