Lottery wins and family law property settlements

The recent case of Elford [2016] FamCAFC 45 considered how lottery ticket prize money would be treated in a property settlement.

In this case:

  • 12 months into the 10 year relationship, the Husband won over $620,000 on a lottery ticket;
  • He had been using the same numbers each week for some 8 years before the relationship;
  • He paid for the ticket out of his own bank account;
  • He placed his winnings into a term deposit, where they remained until the date of Trial;
  • The parties always maintained separate finances, and kept all of their property separate. They never held any joint bank accounts.

At Trial, the Court included the term deposit (which also held funds from a later inheritance received by the Husband) into the net asset pool, and determined that the lottery win ought to be considered a contribution made solely on behalf of the Husband. The Wife was awarded 10 % of the net asset pool overall.

On appeal, the Wife argued amongst other things that the lottery win ought to have been considered a joint contribution by the parties.

The Full Court rejected the Wife’s argument, and her appeal was dismissed.