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Derek Legal Blog

What Happens to Windfalls in Family Law Property Disputes

Whilst the odds of winning Gold Lotto are in the tens of millions to one, it happens that the Family Court has been called on more than once to decide what happens with the windfall. In the Marriage of Zyk (1995) 19 Fam LR 797 involving a win which occurred two years after the parties had married, the Court held that it didn’t matter which party purchased the ticket at a particular time. The determining factor was on the basis of contribution so that if the parties were contributing their income towards a joint partnership constituted by the marriage, the purchase of the ticket no matter which party purchased it would be treated the same way. Similarly, if the parties have adopted the traditional role of the husband working and the wife being a homemaker and mother, the wife would have contributed to the ticket by her contribution that way.

In another case, the husband won five million dollars a year after the party separated. The wife brought an application for a Property Adjustment Order two years after the husband had won the five million. She was awarded 15 percent of the lottery win on the basis that the Court held that there was nothing to prevent a party’s contribution made during the marriage being satisfied out of property not existing at the time the contributions in question were made. The husband received the 85 percent on the basis that the lottery ticket belonged to him.

In another case the husband had won the lottery prior to marriage. In that case the Court held, in accordance with the Common Law, the title to the lottery winning vested in the persons who name the ticket was issued in and therefore that was his contribution in the wash up of the parties’ property pool.

It follows therefore that the only time a windfall will be treated as a sole contribution of a party to the marriage is if it occurred prior to marriage.

Posted in: Derek Legal Blog at 23 May 18

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