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How does the court decide with a lottery win - who gets to keep the prize?


From time to time the Family Court has been asked to determine how a lottery win by either the husband or wife during the course of the marriage is to be treated.

At first thought it may be the generally held view would be that the person who bought the ticket should keep the winnings. The Family Court has not adopted this approach and though the outcome may vary from case to case the situation is that where the husband and wife are living together and share their finances and the ticket is purchased by one of them from a joint financial source then the purchaser of the ticket does not necessarily keep the winnings.  The Court will look at the windfall gain as a contribution because the lottery win contributes to the property of the party and if it still remains in existence at the time of the trial it should be available for distribution between the parties.

The critical question is by whom the contribution is made.  The fact that one or other of the parties purchased the ticket from moneys which he or she happened to have at the particular time, is not the final and determinative issue.  The contribution may be regarded as a contribution by the parties equally and not by one particular party.

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