Given the extremely remote chance of having a large lottery win
surely a party would never need to worry about what treatment the
Family Court might give to these winnings in the event they have
separated from their partner or spouse. Perhaps surprisingly, this
is not the case.
When considering the possible treatment of post separation
lottery winnings it is important to note that the Family Law Act
1975 (Cth) ("the Act") does not define "matrimonial
property." Rather, s 79 of the Act grants the Family Court the
power to make property related orders "with respect to the
property of the parties to the marriage or either of them..."
including assets acquired after the parties relationship has
As such, just because a winning is received by a party post
separation it does not mean it will be automatically excluded from
the asset pool available to be divided in any Family Law property
In the recent matter of Eufrosin and Eufrosin  FAMCAFC
191, Thackray, Murphy and Aldridge JJ were asked to consider this
exact proposition on appeal.
Mrs Eufrosin received a considerable lottery winning ($6
million) after the parties had been separated for 6 months, leading
Mr Eufrosin to make an application to the Family Court submitting
the winnings should be 'added back' to the matrimonial
asset pool as the ticket was allegedly purchased using joint
Their Honours considered the earlier case of Anastasio and
Anastatsio (1981) FLC 91-093 in which Baker J said of lottery
tickets purchased during a marriage "Although the ticket was
purchased by the husband, it was so purchased with the object and
hope of achieving a matrimonial objective and I propose therefore
to regard same as a matrimonial asset."
However, their Honours upheld the findings of the trial judge
noting by the time Mrs Eufrosin purchased her winning lottery
ticket (regardless of the source of the funds) there was no longer
a "common use" of property between herself and her
husband. Rather, the parties were applying funds for their
respective individual purposes. As such, in the words of the trial
judge, it would be "pure sophistry" to credit the husband
with any contribution to the funds used to purchase the lottery
As such any claim Mr Eufrosin might have had to his ex
wife's lottery winnings was limited to an adjustment the Court
might make when considering relevant factors under s75(2) of the
Act which can broadly described as factors which may effect the
'future needs' of a party.
In this case, the Court decided to award Mr Eufrosin $500,000
from his wife's lottery winnings in recognition of the fact he
was 62 years old and nearing the end of his working life, lacked
any significant formal qualifications and was operating a company
at a loss.
In light of the above, should a party be lucky enough to receive
a lottery windfall following separation it is entirely possible
their former spouse may be entitled to a portion of these
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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