Divorce and lotto wins- who gets what?

Sure, it’s not every day that you win lotto! But what happens when you win lotto and you’re separated or divorce?

Well, its your lucky day if your divorce is settled and finalised and many years have past since your break-up. If you and your ex have moved on and have final property Orders and are living separate financial lives, then  the lottery winnings, are yours to keep!  Congratulations!

BUT what happens when your timing is not so great- and you win lotto just after you and your spouse or partner separate? what then? Who gets what?

Case Number 1- lotto winning

The first case the Court dealt with where lottery win was in dispute was the case of In the Marriage of Zyk (1995). This is a case where the Husband had been part of  a lottery syndicate and during the marriage he had won a considerable amount of money. The Court decided as there had been a joint effort in their savings and purchase of assets, then this lottery win was seen as one that both the Husband and Wife contributed to, and not just the Husband’s win.

Case Number 2- lotto winning

In 1998, the case of Marriage of Brease (1998), the parties were not married or living together when the Wife (using her lotto card) won $473,745.50. The  wife successfully argued that because she had purchased the lottery ticket using her money, she should keep her lotto winnings. It is important to note that the parties married in January 1994 and separated in December 1994 and the Wife won lotto in March 1993, one month before they started living together!

Case Number 3 -lotto winning

In 2016, in the case of Elford and Elford, the Wife appealed a decision where she received 10% of the Husband’s lottery winnings. She wanted 32%. The Court said that the Husband who had won $622,842, one year after he and the wife started living together, deposited this money together with some other savings he had in a separate term deposit and never mingled or mixed this money with the parties’ other assets. The wife lost her appeal.

Take Home Message

If you win lotto at any stage of your marriage or marriage-like relationship, then get independent family law advice. You never know how this lotto win could impact your marriage or relationship.  If you are going through a divorce or separation, then absolutely get family law advice immediately to find the best ways to protect and preserve your lottery winnings.

A different and Healthy Divorce approach

If you want to know how to ensure that your children thrive the separation  or your divorce and if you are interested in protecting and preserving your assets as well as keeping your self-esteem in tact, then consider a healthy divorce approach! To find out more check out www.healthydivorce.com.au   


This information is not legal advice. Please contact Pamela Cominos on [email protected] for confidential and tailored legal advice.