I read today with interest (and more than a little envy) of the 58 year old man from Hereford who last week scooped more than £71 million on the Euro Millions Jackpot.
The winner’s former mother-in-law is quoted as saying that her daughter “knows she might be entitled to a large slice of his win but said she doesn’t want a penny”. The former wife apparently also said that as far as she is concerned “he can keep the lot”.
However, as admirable as the former wife’s standpoint may be, whether she is indeed entitled to a “large slice” of the lottery winner’s vast fortune depends completely on whether a court order was made in relation to the couples finances when the parties divorced several years ago.
If the parties did enter into a financial agreement at the time of their divorce, and that agreement was approved by the family court making it legally binding on them both, and if that court order gave the husband a clean break (or in other words cut off any financial claims that the wife may have in the future) then the ex-wife is completely wrong to think that she could seek a further capital settlement or a share of the winnings.
If, however, there was no court order made to ratify any financial agreement or indeed there was a court order which required the husband to pay ongoing spousal support to his former wife then there is a potential for the former wife to seek a further financial award from him.
Where there is an ongoing spousal maintenance obligation then the former wife could potentially seek to increase the amount she receives but more likely given the quantum of the lottery win, the court would award her a capitalised sum paying off the ongoing maintenance obligation in one go.
The example of a big lottery win being received post-divorce is often used by family law solicitors when advising clients of the necessity to give serious consideration to obtaining a financial court order as well as dissolving the marriage by way of a divorce. It is a common a misconception that dissolving the marriage and getting divorced also automatically cuts off all financial ties and claims between ex-spouses. However, this is not the case and a financial claim can be made after divorce which is why it is imperative to give serious consideration to ensuring that all matters, including financial matters, pertaining to a marriage breakdown are properly and legally dealt with and ratified by the family court.