We use "Cookies" on this website to improve your experience and to provide us with anonymous information. Read more here. [x] Close

Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Who buys the Lottery ticket in your house?

1 Comments

I think the generally accepted wisdom, which of course is the favourite kind and has no basis whatsoever in law, is that if an individual buys a Lottery ticket and their numbers come up, their other half is entitled to half. I guess that should read that they would share their winnings but if they split up, it would be divided between them. Well, a ruling last week suggested that is not always the case – and it could send shockwaves through households across the country as long-held ticket buying protocols are revised (just in case). The advertising tagline should be revised to “It could be you – and only you.”

A High Court judge has ruled that if your spouse picks the winning numbers, you are legally entitled to a share of the winnings only if the money is invested in a shared asset, such as a family home. Money which goes straight into the bank cannot be touched.

Division of assets on divorce can be a minefield – very tricky to negotiate, complicated and difficult to achieve a positive outcome. However, I am sure most people would have thought that a Lottery win for a couple would be among the easier things to sort out. Not so it seems.

The landmark ruling, thought to be the first on Lottery winnings, revolved around a hotel porter who sued his former wife for a share of her £500,000 National Lottery winnings. The man, who cannot be named, was granted a partial victory by Mr Justice Mostyn but the judge said he should not be given an equal share because lottery winnings were not "matrimonial property". The couple were living in a council house when the woman bought the winning ticket with her own money and without her husband's knowledge more than 10 years ago.

The ruling, announced following a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, has met with some consternation – and rightly so. After all, it appears to send the message that couples should keep their assets separate. Also, bank accounts are usually treated as joint assets if a couple are divorcing, are they not?

I am not sure if this is the end of the saga but I will watch it with interest as it seems to fly in the face of common sense and the legal responsibilities and ramifications that come from a couple being married. I will also be revising the Woolley household rules on Lottery ticket purchases to ensure a transparency and openness – just in case.

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

Comments

Loading comments...

In my house, the money would be spent having a really good time, so I don’t think there would be much left to be divided.  It certainly would not be there 10 years later!...

By Janine Thomson on Monday October 24, 2011

What do you think?


Have your say

Comment



Receive your FREE guide

Your free guide will be available to download immediately and a copy sent by email. Your email address will not be used to send any further correspondence without your permission.