In the context of a separation where parties to a relationship have to divvy up “relationship property” (including assets and debts), whether certain items are “relationship” or “separate” property is highly relevant.

Sometimes it isn’t very clear whether or not a certain asset is up for division.

In the case of lottery winnings the answer will likely depend on when and how the party with the winning ticket purchased that ticket.

For example, in one Family Court case the husband had won $24,000 through Lotto just one month prior to the spouses separating.  The winnings were held to be relationship property because the ticket was acquired during the relationship using relationship property.

If the husband had obtained the lottery winnings before the relationship started and then kept those winnings to one side during the course of a relationship, it is likely that they would have remained his separate property at the conclusion of the relationship.  In order to ring-fence and protect a separate property asset like lottery winnings, we recommend putting in place a Contracting Out Agreement during the early stages of a relationship.

Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.