A Windfall during a Divorce Could Fan the Flames of Rancour; THURSDAY ESSAY A Lottery Win Can Add Fuel to a Bitter Divorce Says Madeline Rand, Director of Family Law Firm RLE Law. She Explains What Rights Separating Spouses Have If One of Them Strikes It Lucky
Byline: Madeline Rand
* OR richer, for poorer: Do spouses have any right to lottery winnings? A landmark case, the first of its kind, has given guidance to lawyers on how lottery winnings should be split in the event of divorce.
As recent lottery winners in the UK have won some of the highest ever jackpots, putting them firmly on the country's rich lists in front of the likes of David Bowie and Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, what kind of rights do spouses now have if separating from a partner who has matched those big money balls? What does it mean for couples struggling to divide a cash prize after their relationship has ended?.
"It's a sad fact of life that sometimes, the things you wanted to share with your partner as a married couple will be the things that you want to keep for yourself during a divorce.
We often hear of what happens to assets of a marriage, such as houses, during these separations, but what happens when you or your partner have had the luck to win a cash prize during or before a divorce? "This was discussed in a recent case where a hotel porter attempted to sue his former wife for a proportion of her lottery win, with which she had invested pounds 275,000 in a home for the family in London, now worth pounds 500,000.
"He argued that he was entitled to a share of the money, which is ex wife had won some 10 years previously with a ticket she had bought on her own, without his knowledge.
"The court indicated that if the couple operated as a syndicate whereby they purchased a ticket with joint money for the benefit of them both, then the prize would have been shared equally.
"However, it was ruled that, because the money was won by the wife, but was invested into the relationship through the purchase of a family home, the husband should be awarded a lump sum of pounds 85,000.
"This ruling suggests that, had the wife not invested a significant proportion of her winnings into the family home, then the husband would not have been entitled to anything, despite the fact that she bought the ticket during the marriage and with income generated in the course of the marriage.
"The impact this has, is that it encourages spouses to keep their assets separate from their partners, to protect them from one another should the relationship end.
"In the past, any money accrued during a marriage would be considered a joint asset and would be split equally. …