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Lottery winnings of a spouse to be shared equally, court reverses finding in S$1.25m 4-D win

The ruling states that winnings are to be shared equally unless the spouse who purchased the lucky ticket can show proof that it was for his personal benefit only

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Singapore – Singapore’s High Court reversed its decision on the ruling that the lottery winnings of a spouse is for his or her benefit only and not for the family as a whole.

The Court of Appeal noted, however, that this is not to be treated as a “blanket rule” although the findings increased the share of a wife who started with a 42 per cent share in marital assets to 49.1 per cent in the matter of a S$1.25 million lottery won by her husband.

The Appeal court judge Andrew Phang said it is presumed that winnings were to be shared equally unless the spouse who purchased the lucky ticket can show proof that it was for his personal benefit only.

“The more important point is the intention with which that ticket was purchased,” said Judge of Appeal Phang on May 2 (Thursday). Also sitting were Justices Belinda Ang and Woo Bih Li who reviewed the case of the Singapore Pools 4-D winning ticket amounting to S$1.25 million last 2002 that involved a married couple who got divorced later on.

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The High Court decided last year that the husband’s winnings were his contribution to the purchase of the family home, and thus excluded his wife from any portion.

“On the facts of the present case, it is clear that the (husband) did not purchase the winning lottery in 2002 with the intention of keeping the winnings for himself since he had deposited the winnings into the parties’ DBS joint account and utilised these winnings to pay the mortgage,” noted Appeal Judge Phang.

The couple had been married for 23 years and have two grown-up children but eventually separated.

After their divorce, the High Court ruling gave the husband, 63, a 58 per cent share of the matrimonial assets worth S$9.3 million and the wife, 55, a 42 per cent share of the said amount.

An appeal was made by the wife and her lawyers Linda Ong and Lim Xiao Wei. Their party argued that a lottery win was “fortuitous in nature” and the contributions towards the purchase of the family home using the prize money was supposed to be shared equally between the couple.

However, the husband’s defence, handled by Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan and lawyer Lim Shu Fen, argued that he was an inveterate gambler who had incurred losses that were “insubstantial,” as reported by The Straits Times.

The Court of Appeals did not accept the husband’s appeal saying that the overall losses spent on lottery tickets “actually depleted the then existing matrimonial assets.”

After the court’s finding, the wife’s contribution to the marital assets increased to 49.1 per cent, estimated at S$4.574 million.

The court also made a distinction on the personal winnings of each spouse, with the husband earning S$1,281,238 between 2011 and 2013 and the wife S$10,000 in 2010. These winnings were considered as separate entities from the 2002 lottery prize because they were purchased after the couple’s divorce in 2004.

“It can be inferred that both parties did not intend for any winnings from these tickets to be for the benefit of the family, but instead for each of themselves only,” said the court.

The husband was ordered by the court to pay S$20,000 for the costs incurred by the wife in the appeal case. Other costs in the preceding High Court case were to be shouldered individually.

In other news, Singapore Pools has been busy since the start of 2019 with record-breaking wins by solo winners.

Read related: One person wins the S$9.7 million Toto lottery, biggest amount to be won by solo winner

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