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Winning big on the lottery for most of us is a dream come true, jetting off around the world and never having to get up for a Monday morning ever again, however for some people when those dreams become reality they can quickly become a nightmare.

Here are some famous examples of when winning big wasn’t all it was cracked up to be:

Gareth and Catherine Bull
Winnings: £40.6 Million
Gareth and Catherine scooped a massive £40 million back in 2012 but in 2017 were said to have split up with Gareth moving out to live a mile away from the family home.

Les and Samantha Cadding
Winnings: £45.5 Million
The couple lasted 4 years after winning big. The couple splashed out on a holiday home in Barbados but were said to been seen spending a lot of time apart after they won their millions.

Adrian and Gillian Bayford
Winnings: £148 Million
After winning this huge amount in 2012 the couple split just over a year later in 2013. They lasted for 15 months after the lottery winners curse struck again.

Whilst all these couples now have a high net worth, in divorce proceedings, their assets will need to be gathered and divided, this may be in the mediation room or at the family court.

When deciding how to split these assets a Judge will take into account several factors. With these couples having considerably more assets than the average couple going through the divorce courts, the Judge will give more importance to different factors than if they had less assets.

When deciding on the division of assets for an average income couple the court will use legislation factors to help them decide who will retain what property after the couple have divorced. This could be the family house, car, pensions etc. The factors are an indicative list which helps the courts divide assets. The primary concern for these low net worth cases is the ‘needs’ of both parties.

For cases with much higher incomes, such as these lottery winners, there is usually more than enough assets to cover the parties ‘needs’ so this factor is given less weight and different guidance is used.

It was decided in the case of White v White that the starting point should be an equal division and that this should only be departed from if the court has a good reason for doing so. The court would then look at factors against equal division and fairness would be achieved by analysing 3 new factors of needs, compensation and sharing.

Needs is relatively straight forward, a party will need a house, children of the family will need a family home to live and money to continue living. Courts will analyse a party’s standard of living and try to keep this for a party, but needs will always come first.

Compensation is given to a party where they suffer financially due to the way they conducted themselves during the marriage, say for example where one party gave up work to raise children and the other stayed on at work to earn an income for the family.

The case of Charman v Charman established that the sharing principle should only be departed from if there was a strong reason for doing so. This reason would have to be a ‘special contribution’ to the marriage so extraordinary it should not be ignored. This means a party would have to make a special contribution so that they get a lot more than the other.

For these lucky or unlucky lottery winners above the courts will use these principles and divide their money accordingly. With millions in the bank there should be more than enough to cover their needs and this could result in assets being split on a 50:50 basis.

For further information in relation to dividing the finances of the marriage, please contact one of our experienced solicitors on 0113 3229222 or email us on