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Property Settlement Canberra Family Law – inheritances and lottery wins.

By April 21, 2015No Comments

Why is a property settlement important? Because an inheritance or a lottery win can be part of the matrimonial property pool pool until a property settlement has been reached.

HHG Legal blogged about this topic on 30 March:

Imagine you have just been lucky enough to win $6million–and now your ex-spouse is asking for a cut.  Would they be laughed out of court? A recent article from investigates the issue of the treatment of post-separation lottery winnings in family law and concludes that courts are, in fact, able to include lottery winnings in the matrimonial asset pool under certain circumstances.


The simple fact is that the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) ‘does not define “matrimonial property”:

Rather, s 79 of the Act grants the Family Court the power to make property related orders “with respect to the property of the parties to the marriage or either of them…” including assets acquired after the parties relationship has ended.

Therefore, a winning received by a party after separation is able to be included in the asset pool to be divided in the ultimate property settlement. This highlights the need to finalise property matters promptly after separation.

A recent case tested this idea on appeal. After being separated for six months, (and no property orders having been finalised) a wife won a large sum of money, prompting her former husband to make application to the Family Court that the winnings be ‘added back’ to the asset pool. The former husband claimed the ticket was purchased using joint funds which had not yet been divided.

An earlier case existed of lottery tickets purchased during a marriage, but in that case it was found that no matter who had bought the ticket, the ticket was bought “with the object and hope of achieving a matrimonial objective”, and it was therefore regarded as a matrimonial asset.  In the more recent case, the judges upheld the findings of the trial judge, ruling that the lottery ticket (no matter who had paid for it) had been purchased at a stage when the parties were “applying funds for their respective individual purposes”. It was dismissed as essentially irrelevant that the husband had contributed to the cost of the lottery ticket.

However, the former husband was awarded part of his ex-wife’s winnings as an “adjustment the Court might make when considering relevant factors under s75(2) of the Act which can broadly described as factors which may effect the ‘future needs’ of a party.” The husband’s future needs took into account the fact that he was 62 and soon to be retired, as well as lacking formal qualifications and running a company at a loss.

So in the end, as daft as it sounds, it seems your former partner could indeed be entitled to share in your post-separation lottery winnings, should you be lucky enough to ever have such a windfall.

Are you separated and have not yet finalised your property matter? See one of our friendly lawyers at Alliance Family Law to get the matter concluded sooner rather than later, and all future windfalls, lottery winnings and inheritances will be yours alone.

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