Couple with real-estate agent signing home investment contractThe parties had been married for 20 years and separated for 6 months (but not divorced) when the Wife won $6 million jackpot on the lottery. The husband argued that his ex-wife used money from joint funds to purchase the lotto ticket.

The Full Court of Appeal decided that the Husband had not contributed to the purchase of the lottery ticket, on the basis that at the time of the winnings the two parties were living financially independent lives. There was no common use of funds as the parties pursued their own financial endeavours.  It was held that it was irrelevant where the money used to purchase the ticket came from (even though the trial judge found Mrs Eufrosin could have got it from up to four sources and not just the joint funds). The Court instead placed importance on the nature of the parties’ relationship at the time of the lottery winnings, finding that each case would turn on its facts. The purchasing of the lottery ticket was not in furtherance of the failed marriage of the parties.

This situation was distinguished from the circumstances in which a lottery ticket was purchased during a relationship, in which case the winnings would form part of the parties’ joint assets, regardless of whose money was used in purchasing the ticket.  In that situation the winnings would have just formed part of the property pool.

The Court did, however, make an adjustment of $500,000 to the husband from the wife (even though it was found he made no contribution to the winnings) on the basis that he had greater financial needs post separation.

The judgment just enforces the value of finalising property settlement by way of a consent order or financial agreement and obtaining a divorce when available.