Are post separation lotto wins subject to a former partner making a claim? Apparently, Yes.
In a case that recently went before the Family Court, the Husband was awarded 5% of the Wife’s $6 million lottery win, which she won six months following separation. In another case, the Court awarded the Wife 20% of the Husband’s $5 million lottery win, which he won 20 months following separation, and in another case, the Wife was awarded 20% of the total property pool on appeal, which included some of the Husband’s $1.27 million lottery win, which he won six months following separation.
The reason why the Courts are awarding former partners a partial interest in post separation lotto wins is largely to do with the contributions the former partner has made during the relationship and post separation, and their future circumstances.
Even though you and your partner may have separated, the acquisition of further property, inheritances, windfalls, lotto wins and the like, may still be subject to division between you and your former partner, by the Court.
There is nothing in the legislation limiting you or your former partner’s entitlement to property that existed as at the date of separation only. Accordingly, even if an asset does not exist at the time that you are making contributions (whether financial or non-financial), that is not to say that you have no interest in the newly acquired asset. The Court assesses the contributions of each of you from when you started living together until the date of the Hearing, and makes what adjustment as to a property settlement it considers to be “just and equitable” according to each of your contributions, as well as future circumstances.
In each of these cases, adjustments were largely made to the other spouse on the basis of their future circumstances, where a party had care of the child, health concerns, the inability to obtain employment and the difference in lottery winner’s financial position to that of the former spouse.
The message to take home, is finalise a property settlement with your former partner as soon as possible (and before you buy that lotto ticket!)
To find out more contact us on 02 6257 6477.
By Siobhan Mullins
Farrar Gesini Dunn.