The Lottery of Divorce

A case reported in the newspapers (but not yet in the law reports) serves to highlight what a lottery some divorce financial cases can become.

 The facts appear sketchy at present, and most sensible commentators will await the publication of the full judgment before passing much comment, but it does appear that a wife who bought a winning lottery ticket (£0.5m) and invested some of the proceeds in the marital home 3 years prior to separation (keeping the rest in her sole name) was able to get away without sharing that part of it with the husband. The fact that the husband only lived in the property for a short period of time meant that he wasn’t even entitled to half of the house (a mere 17% in fact).

 The rationale behind the judge’s thinking was that the wife bought the lottery ticket without the knowledge of the husband, and using her own money.  Had she not bought the house with it the assumption is that she might have held on to the lot.

 The law in this area is that property or assets that come from a source wholly external to the marriage generally remain with the contributing spouse unless the needs of the other spouse cannot be met without recourse to it.  The significant part of this judgment appears to have been that a winning lottery ticket purchased prior to separation was held not to have been an asset of the marriage.  This has raised many eyebrows in the legal community.

 I shall report further when the judgment is published.

 Andrew Lee

 Andrew is a Collaborative Family Lawyer, and a Senior Associate Solicitor at Gregory AbramsDavidson.  To contact: Tel 0151 236 5000/ 0151 330 0734: alee@gadllp.co.uk