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When love and lotto don't mix

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: When love and lotto don't mix
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Includes audio report

Imagine winning lotto. If you're happily married you'll be sharing your windfall with your spouse without a second thought and if you're not so happily married, and you've separated, the money's all yours, right?

It turns out things are not that simple and the Family Court could award a substantial amount to your ex. Believe it or not, there are quite a few cases involving lost love and lotto.

Transcript

Damien Carrick: Today on the Law Report, law students who cheat on university exams; should they be allowed to become lawyers? Also, divorce; when someone loses capacity, should their loved ones be able to step in and arrange a divorce on their behalf? That's later.

First, imagine winning Lotto. If you're happily married you'll be sharing your windfall with your spouse without a second thought. And if you're not so happily married, you're separated, the money is all yours, right? Well, it's not that simple. The Family Court could award a substantial figure to your ex. And believe it or not, there are quite a few cases involving lost love and Lotto. The latest involves a Sydney couple known only as Mr and Mrs Eufrosin.

Juliet Behrens is a senior associate with Canberra law firm Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson.

Juliet Behrens: Damian, it was an interesting case. It was a case involving a family law property dispute between a couple who had a long marriage, a 20-year marriage, who had divorced in September 2009. Just after separation but prior to the divorce the wife had won $6 million in what is described as a gambling venture. I think it was various forms of Lotto and so on. When I say the wife won it, it was an interesting kind of factual scenario because she'd actually used her sister's…I think it's called a player card…which identifies her sister as the winner and results in the winnings being placed in her sister's bank account. And so she'd won this $6 million. She and her sister had had a kind of an agreement that they would share the winnings and ultimately the agreement between them was that her sister would take $1 million and then the wife would take the $5 million that remained. And the question was how should those winnings be dealt with in adjusting the property interests between the husband and the wife. So, a really interesting factual scenario.

Damien Carrick: So Mr Eufrosin wanted a share, he thought that this was an asset of the marriage, even though they had been separated for six months.

Juliet Behrens: Absolutely, and in a sense he is right because when judges make decisions about property matters or when we are negotiating in property matters we look at what either party or both parties have at the time of the decision or at the time of those negotiations, and that's what we call the pool of property to be divided. And so at the time that this decision was being made, that $5 million or what was left of it, there had been some significant spending, as one might expect if one had won $5 million, so what was left of it was, in a sense, in a pool available to be distributed. But the question was how much of that should the husband get?

Damien Carrick: So what was Mrs Eufrosin's argument? Why did she say, 'Hands off buddy, it's all mine'?

Juliet Behrens: She didn't say, ' Hands off, it's all mine', I think her counsel's submission in the end was that Mr Eufrosin should receive 5% of that amount. His counsel argued that he should receive either 50% of it if it could be regarded as the product of a joint partnership or joint venture, or if not 50% then 33.33%, and the difference between those percentages on such a large amount, as you can probably work out, is quite significant. So the wife was saying basically I contributed this and I contributed it after we separated, it can't be seen as the product of any kind of partnership endeavour between us, as it might have been if they had won it a while they were still together, and that therefore the vast bulk of it should be mine.

Damien Carrick: It's interesting, because this habit of buying Lotto tickets was something that she had done throughout the course of their marriage. I think for many years she would spend about $30 a week on Lotto tickets, and it was one of the arguments that this was kind of the continuation of an ongoing endeavour that the husband had originally invested in.

Juliet Behrens: I think that probably was there, but also an argument that she was actually receiving from continuing family businesses and so on and from the care of the children, she was receiving some income from those sources. So, as I understand it, she was still receiving some income from the family business and she had received a refund of some monies in respect of the children. And so the husband's argument in part was that that ticket may have been…no one knows what it was actually bought with, but that it may have been bought with funds from essentially a joint venture, if you like. So it was an interesting case because it wasn't the entirely clear-cut situation where the parties have completely separated their financial affairs and the wife or husband, whoever has won it, has just started purchasing the ticket after separation and so on. So it was an interesting case, interesting set of facts.

Damien Carrick: So what of the court ultimately decide?

Juliet Behrens: What do you think? Yes, I've run it by all my kids to say, you know, what do you think he should have got? And it varied from 'half' to 'nothing'. So one of the reasons these cases are so fascinating is I think they are intellectually interesting, they really highlight for us what the family law jurisdiction is and should be trying to do as between married couples.

So, what did he get? What the judge, Justice Stevenson in this case, actually did was to create two pools. So one was a pool of the parties' property as at the date of separation, and that was a relatively substantial pool in itself, although these parties were nearing retirement age, so they needed some considerable property to support themselves in retirement. So they had in that pool net $2.5 million, and the judge decided that they should share equally in that.

And then she created a second pool which was essentially the net value of the gambling enterprise. And at the time of the decision there was about I think $3.4 million left. And of that she said, well, the husband has made no contribution to that, so his argument that somehow funds from the business or in some other way funds that he had contributed to those winnings, that was not successful. But she said that out of that $3.4 million he should get a sum of $500,000, which if you do the maths I think is about 15% of $3.4 million.

And the reason she said that is because in family law we don't just look at what people have contributed, we also look at what their future needs and financial circumstances and a whole lot of other kind of broader justice factors would indicate. And in this case the judge was persuaded that given that he was nearing retirement age, given that there was this huge financial discrepancy now between the parties because the wife was going to keep the balance of the lottery winnings, that there should be an adjustment of that order to him. So he received, as I say, $500,000 from that second pool.

Damien Carrick: In fact this is not the first case involving the family courts and gambling wins or Lotto wins. There was a really interesting case, Farmer and Bramley I think it was, and that was decided quite differently.

Juliet Behrens: Yes, so that was really quite a tragic case in some ways. It was a decision of the full court of the Family Court of Australia back in 2000, and this is a case where there was, again, a relatively long marriage, and during the marriage the husband had some…what are described as drug-related problems, really quite significant problems actually, and the wife supported him through those problems. And at the end of this relatively long marriage, in part because of the fact that he had been unwell and unable to earn income and so on, the parties had absolutely nothing. And so the wife was not in a position of being able to get any compensation for those contributions that she'd made.

And then lo and behold, what happens? Approximately a year and a half after separation, the husband (remember, the one who had had the drug-related problems and so on) won $5 million in the lottery. And so the question is what share of those proceeds should the wife have, if any? Now, there was a bit of an argument by the husband that in fact he didn't own the proceeds at all, he bought the ticket for his mother, and you often see those kinds of arguments in these cases. But ultimately the court found that he had won that $5 million, and then turned to deal with the claims of the wife.

Damien Carrick: So at the end of the day what did the full court decide, by majority I think it was?

Juliet Behrens: So the majority of the full court in that case upheld the trial judge's decision that the wife should receive $750,000 from this pool of $5 million.

Damien Carrick: What, about 15%?

Juliet Behrens: Yes. So it's interesting you say it's quite different from Eufrosin, and in a sense it is, except that ultimately the percentages turned out quite similarly, despite I would have thought the stronger claims, in a sense, of the wife in that case, having made those very substantial contributions. And so one of the interesting arguments was could her contributions during the marriage be recognised out of post-separation acquired property? And the majority found that they could, but, even so, were only willing to uphold the decision that she should get 15%, and she ultimately only got $750,000. But these are very discretionary decisions, as I say, and other factors may have been at play in that case, including the fact that by the time the case came forward she had remarried, for instance, and so that might have made a difference.

Damien Carrick: There was another case, relatively recently, in Canberra involving I think two recently arrived immigrants from Africa. Tell me about that case.

Juliet Behrens: Well, that case is known as Kneen and Crockford, and the two cases that we've talked about so far have involved Lotto wins after separation, but Kneen and Crockford involved the different situation where the parties ultimately had won TattsLotto during their relationship and then the question was how should that be dealt with after they separated and were fighting about how property should be distributed between them.

Damien Carrick: So they were a de facto couple, is that right?

Juliet Behrens: Yes, that's right, because of course the Family Law Act now applies to de facto couples. And during their de facto relationship the de facto wife won $3 million I think it was in Lotto. And really what she was trying to say was that that wasn't the product of a joint enterprise or a partnership. Really what she was saying was 'I bought the ticket, I won it, and therefore I should get significant credit for that contribution'.

But ultimately the court found that the parties had effectively both contributed from their joint partnership to the winnings, and ultimately divided those winnings between the parties equally, with a slight adjustment to the wife because she earned significantly less than the husband.

Damien Carrick: Juliet Behrens, senior associate with Canberra law firm Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson.

LISTEN to the radio report

Thanks to myturn for the tip.

ABC

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31 comments. Last comment 6 months ago by jamella724.
Page 1 of 3
helpmewin's avatar - dandy
DON'T HATE THE PLAYA HATE THE GAME
u$a
United States
Member #106669
February 22, 2011
16291 Posts
Offline
Posted: September 18, 2013, 7:55 am - IP Logged

share the wealth keep the peace Love

                 

    Abdi's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg
    Nairobi
    Kenya
    Member #64806
    September 8, 2008
    115 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: September 18, 2013, 8:19 am - IP Logged

    for me as a kenyan and more so from an african point of view,it's not right to share your hard earned money with anyone else even your loved ones including your former love bird.

    when replying to post's please criticise ideas not people.

    in this room we are here to share and learn.

    There are no born heroes or winners........it takes a hammer a chisel,a vision and a will to suffer the blows and be carved into one!..........

    I have tried using 10 major lottery softwares used around the globe.I have spent many years studying them and know i am regretting the time i have wasted on them.

    whos is Abdi?This boy  is  proudly kenyan,he is currently creating shockwaves across the United States of America.

      sully16's avatar - sharan
      Listens to the wind

      United States
      Member #81740
      October 28, 2009
      17774 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: September 18, 2013, 8:20 am - IP Logged

      For better or worse, for rich or poor, sickness or health.Love

      There's only one US Flag

        Piaceri's avatar - sarsony1
        Wannabe Won Percenter
        Republic of Texas
        United States
        Member #57557
        January 9, 2008
        954 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: September 18, 2013, 8:45 am - IP Logged

        As long as it doesn't apply to couples already divorced when the lottery is won, I'm okay with it. Thumbs Up As long as my ex can't come back after 7+ years of divorce and make a claim on any of my winnings.

        face

        singlewinnersinglewinnersinglewinner   

          mypiemaster's avatar - peace
          He who dies with the most toys WINS!!!.

          United States
          Member #141039
          April 2, 2013
          513 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: September 18, 2013, 8:46 am - IP Logged

          Whenever emotions run this high, Lawyers always make out like bandits. They will be grinning and sinning with your money. Based on everything I have seen and read about love, I'm starting to wonder...."Is it possible, that LOVE might actually be, a form of temporary insanity?"  Just look around your neighborhood.

          Seekand ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

          Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

            savagegoose's avatar - ProfilePho
            adelaide sa
            Australia
            Member #37136
            April 11, 2006
            2744 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: September 18, 2013, 9:41 am - IP Logged

            As long as it doesn't apply to couples already divorced when the lottery is won, I'm okay with it. Thumbs Up As long as my ex can't come back after 7+ years of divorce and make a claim on any of my winnings.

            i think it was the middle case, the couple had spllit, new partners, and 1.5 years had passed.  still 15% was paid. things get tricky id child support is being paid, and lotto is bought, i mean the contributing partner  could argue, my funds for the child in care, has been used to buy lotto tickets, so i deserve a cut.

            but how about  the other way?   contributing partner wins? and  recieving partner who cares for kids wants a claim! i  guess thats going to  fly too. also it seems judges here in australian family court are going to give a %15 cut to ex's almost all the time,. if not more.

              "  I WON THE LOTTO , SUBMIT YOUR BEGGING  REQUESTS HERE " 1900 BEG4BUKZ

            2014 winnings

            JAN -$48.50;  FEB  -$77.5; MAR -$18.05;

             

            <div_prefs id="div_prefs">

              noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
              Bay Area/ California
              United States
              Member #136482
              December 12, 2012
              1660 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: September 18, 2013, 9:57 am - IP Logged

              As long as it doesn't apply to couples already divorced when the lottery is won, I'm okay with it. Thumbs Up As long as my ex can't come back after 7+ years of divorce and make a claim on any of my winnings.

              Agreed.
              Separation is not divorce,  plain and simple.Its not as if one is going after the other for "child support" long after the marriage has dissolved.  Pay up.

                Avatar
                NY
                United States
                Member #23835
                October 16, 2005
                2809 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: September 18, 2013, 10:01 am - IP Logged

                If you're so stupid you don't understand the difference between being married and not being married I'll bet life presents all kinds of problems.

                  dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
                  Oklahoma
                  United States
                  Member #82391
                  November 12, 2009
                  4890 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: September 18, 2013, 11:07 am - IP Logged

                  This article reminds me of Holly Lahti who won the Mega Millions in 2011 she was separated from her husband when she won.

                  Win BIG everyone....White Bounce

                  I Love Pink & Green 1908

                    golfer1960's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcRrT_aqD1AR0JipFSPNrYwpV7HY4uVoKxOgcUYLzZ3SEdif
                    Eatontown, NJ
                    United States
                    Member #119675
                    November 29, 2011
                    522 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: September 18, 2013, 1:31 pm - IP Logged

                    As long as it doesn't apply to couples already divorced when the lottery is won, I'm okay with it. Thumbs Up As long as my ex can't come back after 7+ years of divorce and make a claim on any of my winnings.

                    Hmm...so Pia is single?

                      Avatar
                      Keokuk,Iowa
                      United States
                      Member #116508
                      September 12, 2011
                      302 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: September 18, 2013, 3:16 pm - IP Logged

                      Hmm...so Pia is single?

                      There is a simple solution.It's called honoring your marriage vows.

                        HaveABall's avatar - rocket

                        United States
                        Member #72448
                        March 18, 2009
                        918 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: September 18, 2013, 5:31 pm - IP Logged

                        There is a simple solution.It's called honoring your marriage vows.

                        Or if, hopefully, both parties to the marriage are equally interested in moving away from each other, then the divorce makes more sense to obtain QUICKLY ... no need to separate, date, bring others (even willing rule breakers) into the mess of 'process of divorce.'

                        Only after divorce should one begin to pursue others, fickle or not, for days or years of romance. Crazy/self-defeating, is as crazy does!

                        Poke Hit With Stick

                        Having millions of dollars in my financial accounts means more, consistent fun for me.Lovies

                          Piaceri's avatar - sarsony1
                          Wannabe Won Percenter
                          Republic of Texas
                          United States
                          Member #57557
                          January 9, 2008
                          954 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: September 18, 2013, 6:35 pm - IP Logged

                          There is a simple solution.It's called honoring your marriage vows.

                          Exactly. It's not something my ex understood. But Karma is a witch and presented him with twins. Green laugh

                          Yes, Golfer, single and lovin' it with no intention of ever changing it. Empty nester with no one to answer to, having way too much fun. Yes Nod Just wish my check stretched a little further. 

                           

                          Dallas - I remember Holly - was there a story on how that turned out? Wasn't her estranged husband into drugs and all? She won a fairly large jackpot, if I remember right. I wonder if she had to give him 50%, or if a judge reduced it due to the circumstances. That would only be right since she had their kids without any support from him and him being into drugs. It sounded like she was struggling with life, but making a good go of it through hard work.

                          face

                          singlewinnersinglewinnersinglewinner   

                            Avatar
                            Windermere, FL/Franklin, TN
                            United States
                            Member #50210
                            March 1, 2007
                            839 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: September 18, 2013, 6:55 pm - IP Logged

                            This article reminds me of Holly Lahti who won the Mega Millions in 2011 she was separated from her husband when she won.

                            I remember the story about her when she initially won. Sounded like she was going through some rough times without any support from her husband. Curious how the assets were divided?  hope she is doing well and enjoying life.

                            ** Some people fulfill their dreams by receiving entitlements from the Government while others wake up and work hard for it! **