The family court was recently called on to decide whether a lottery prize won by the wife during the marriage was to be shared between her and her husband on divorce. The lucky wife won £500,000 as her share of the winnings received by a lottery syndicate of which she was part.
Initially the £500,000 was paid into an account in her sole name but after that and before she separated from her husband she spent the money on a house bought in her sole name where they lived. The court said that whether a lottery prize was to be shared (as matrimonial property) or was to be viewed as separate or non-matrimonial property was dependent on the facts of each case. The decision did not depend on the origin of the monies used to purchase the lottery ticket. The court said that although when the wife initially received the £500,000 it was classified as non-matrimonial property, this changed when she bought the house as the winnings then became matrimonial property.
Because the source of the matrimonial property was not as a result of the joint endeavours by husband and wife, but rather originating from the non-matrimonial property of the wife, and because of the short period that the husband had lived in that house, the court held that the husband was not entitled to an equal share of it. The court said it would be fair in this case for him to share in the region of 15-20% of the value.