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Managing the school's legal risks


Why a Lotto Win Can Be a Double-Edged Sword During Separation

Money can often be a cause of significant arguments between two sensible people. Unfortunately, it can trigger arguments between married couples that lead to separation and divorce. As if this wasn't bad enough, an unexpected "windfall" can come along while a dispute is working its way through legal channels and make things even more complex. If you or your former partner have recently won the lottery or received a significant and unexpected lump sum, how is this likely to affect negotiations?

Lots on the Line

A large portion of the population in Australia loves to play the Lotto on a weekly basis, due to the potential and the scale of the big prize. Certainly, the odds are always against anybody winning, but somebody will be successful and if it's you or your partner, this input of cash needs to be considered during settlement negotiations.

Typical Approach

Usually, the Australian family court determines that any such windfall is of value to both individuals, if it arrives before any judgements or agreements are finalised. This applies to both parties whether or not they have segregated their bank accounts and even if they have never (during the course of a relationship) mingled their money at all. It's not good enough to claim, either, that one person is "technically" the owner of the ticket because they used their own money to buy it. Prior to formal separation, the court considers it to be equally shared.

Mitigating Circumstances

However, it's not quite as simple as that, as the court will also take into account how each party materially contributes to the generation or improvement of the mingled assets and it's also possible to argue that the two parties were irrevocably split and had been for some time before pursuing separation through the courts. If, therefore, the lottery win occurred a long time after these individuals had been physically living together, this may modify the court's view. In this case, they may determine that the matrimonial assets need not be shared equally and the prizewinner would retain all of the funds.

Why Advice Is Crucial

There are a lot of "grey" areas and a lot will depend on just how connected or "valid" the marriage was as of the date of separation, or the date of the windfall. It's very important to get confidential legal counsel in every situation and particularly when it comes to such a large windfall as a Lotto jackpot. Speak with a lawyer to get more information.

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Managing the school's legal risks

When you work in a school it is very important to find a balance between legal risks and the desire to create a fun and vibrant atmosphere for our students. The law in this area is always changing and it's important to stay up to date with any changes. This blog has some resources for school administrators who want more information on legal risks for schools as well as some tips on how to find more information. I hope it will help demystify the area of school legal risk and be a useful starting point for any questions you might have.

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