01 November 2011, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors
The High Court has recently heard a claim for financial relief by a husband in relation to assets that were the result of a significant win on the National Lottery by his former wife; the first of its kind.
The wife won £1 million as part of a syndicate and received her share of £500,000. It was held that the initial lottery prize was non-matrimonial property. However, when the wife subsequently purchased the new family home with the lottery money, she converted that part of her non-matrimonial assets into matrimonial property.
However, given that the source of this matrimonial property was non-matrimonial and that the husband had only lived there for a relatively short period of time, an equal sharing of the property was held not to be justifiable. 15-20% was deemed to be fair, resulting in the husband being awarded £85,000 on a clean break basis.
This judgment appears to be encouraging the ‘ring-fencing’ of non-matrimonial assets after needs have been met, rather than the principle of sharing all property. This is potentially moving further from White v White to protect wealth acquired through one party’s efforts.
Family lawyers are concerned that this ruling will encourage people to keep their finances and assets separate from their partners in future and leave couples fighting over who buys the lottery tickets.
It is the latest in a line of cases that demonstrate how some judges appear to be separating assets of married parties; akin to the approach adopted inEurope, perhaps with the aim of making prenuptial agreements easier to regulate.
Approximately twelve months ago, Nigel Page was the first lottery winner to be sued for a share of his lottery winnings. He settled out of court and made a payment of £2 million out of his £56 million Euromillions winnings to his ex-wife who had left him ten years previously. The moral of this case is that parties should settle with financial issues at the same time as the divorce.
At Taylor King, we are experienced in dealing with the financial aspects of divorce and provide clients with detailed advice regarding all aspects of matrimonial settlements.