Imagine – you have been separated from your spouse of 15 years for some time now. You have led separate lives, and you have sorted out your own divorce proceedings. You decide to celebrate your new single status by purchasing a Lottery ticket, or perhaps enjoying a trip to the Casino, or having a flutter on the horses. At last you feel your luck has turned, and you win a substantial amount. You are exhilarated. In your excitement, you tell your friends. Your ex spouse then makes contact, and suggests he should share in your windfall, arguing it is matrimonial property.
This is not a fictitious scenario, but is a common situation. Whether the windfall be the result of a Lottery win, calling full house at the Bingo, or indeed an inheritance, be aware that whilst your marriage may be dissolved, financial claims between you will remain live until such time as they are dismissed by the Court, by means of a Clean Break Order.
The length of separation, financial independence, and agreements you have made directly in relation to financial matters, may be relevant, but any party post-divorce can make an application to the Court for the Court to decide what should happen in relation to financial matters. Hand in hand with the divorce proceedings therefore should be an application to the Court to formalise any financial agreement reached, with the aim of obtaining the all important Clean Break Order.
Whilst not all of my clients are successful on the Lottery, scratch cards, horses or Bingo, most at some point may receive an inheritance, a bonus at work, a gift from a family member, or some other unexpected windfall.
And the moral of the story is – conclude financial matters as soon as possible, and only then purchase the Lottery ticket!