SKNIn Eufrosin & Eurfrosin [2013] FamCA 311, recently decided in the Family Court of Australia, the court was required to consider the division of a $6 million dollar lottery win by a wife, six months after the parties had separated.

The facts were the parties married in 1987 and separated in 2008.  The husband was aged 62 and the wife aged 55 at the time of the hearing.  The parties had adopted “traditional roles” of the husband being the principal breadwinner and the wife being the primary home maker and carer of the children throughout the marriage.  Their joint pool of assets had a net value of over $2.4 million at the time of separation.

The wife purchased a “gambling” ticket in early 2009 along with her sister and won $6 million, whereby $1 million was given to her sister and $5 million retained by the wife (paid to the wife soon after the win).  The husband argued that he had contributed to the gambling win because the funds used to purchase the winning ticket had came from the parties pool of assets and as such the winnings should be included in the joint asset pool and divided accordingly.

The court concluded that the funds used to purchase the winning ticket, could have come from a number of sources of the wife, or from a combination of the sources.  For example, the funds may have come from the wife’s sister, the wife’s tax return, or from money owed to the wife from her husband’s company.

The Judge found that it was “impossible to identify the precise source of the funds used by the wife to purchase the winning ticket”. Furthermore, “the husband could not simply assert that the purchase money came from ‘joint funds’ ”.

For that reason the wife was entitled to keep all of her gambling winnings which were placed in a separate pool of assets to the joint pool.  That pool was not adjusted by the court owing to their being no contribution made by the husband toward the winnings.  The parties each received 50% of the joint asset pool, however the court still made an adjustment of $500,000 in favour of the husband on account of the husband’s age, limited earning capacity and based on his future needs.

Ultimately, in property proceedings before the Family Court, the central principle which underpins any judgment is that the orders made concerning the property of the parties are just and equitable.  If you require advice in regard to potential property proceedings, at Everingham Solomons we have the expertise and experience to assist you because Helping You is Our Business.

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