The recent large prize pools offered in Australian Saturday Lotto ($30 million), OZ Lotto ($40 million) and Powerball ($35 million) bring into question how the Family Court deals with Lotto wins in property proceedings.
There have been a number of lottery cases heard in the Court and the following principles now apply:
- Lotto wins are property for the purposes of Family Court proceedings and can be divided between parties.
- If the winning ticket is purchased before separation and the parties are otherwise pooling their assets and each contributing financially and domestically, the Court will probably regard the contribution as a joint one.
- The person who purchases the winning ticket is generally regarded as the contributor of the Lotto prize.
- Notwithstanding this, an adjustment may be made to the financially inferior party from Lotto winnings to lead to a just and equitable outcome in the case.
- It is possible for a spouse to make a claim against a Lotto prize won some years after separation.
If a Lotto win forms part of the property pool, the Family Court will look at the following questions:
- Were the parties living together when the ticket was purchased?
- Were the parties pooling their funds when the ticket was purchased?
- Who provided the monies for the winning ticket (if there was no joint account)?
- When was the Lotto prize won (i.e. before, during or after the relationship)?
If you have a query about potential claims against Lotto winnings, windfalls, inheritances, damages, compensation payments or other lump sums, then you should contact one of our family lawyers on 9322 8000.