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The sole survivor de facto property settlement

By 24 October 2016Family Law
Survivor Australia Lee And El

If either Lee or El of Australian Survivor win the $500,000, and then break up, would they have to split the winnings?

With Lee and El being poised with a strong chance to win Australian Survivor, and the recent admissions that they are actually in a relationship, would they be classed as de facto and have a claim against each other upon a separation?

The initial reaction might be, No, its an individual game. Or you might think, Yes, because they have worked together as a couple.

Under the Family Law Act a de facto relationship is deemed when parties have lived together for over two years. However where someone has made substantial contributions and not being able to claim would result in serious injustice, then de facto laws may apply for a much shorter relationship – maybe even 55 days on a reality TV show!?

The legislation looks at contributions as being, a contribution (other than a financial contribution) to the acquisition, conservation or improvement of any property of the parties. Perhaps working as an alliance, manoeuvring to vote off other contestants, and executing a strategy as a couple, would be contributing to the other person acquiring or winning the prize.

If de facto laws do apply to a Survivor winning couple then it would be a very interesting task to work out how much of the $500,000 they might each deserve. Usually the Courts assess each party’s contributions. In this case maybe who won the most challenges or made the most strategic decisions? Possibly the actual winner would get most of the money and the runner up then gets a share depending on how much contribution the Court says they made to the win?

In cases involving lottery wins the Court looks at who bought the ticket, and the source of the funds that purchased the ticket. Survivor is of course different to buying a lottery ticket, but in cases where the funds used to buy the ticket were joint funds, the winnings are usually joint as well. So, if the skills, strength, tactics and teamwork of two people win $500,000, and if they are a couple, haven’t they both substantially contributed and therefore need to share the winnings?

Even if the Court was asked to consider the question of a de facto Survivor prize division, perhaps the Court would not be overly interested in applying the law to such a novel situation.

Maybe a relationship forged in 55 days of minimal food, minimal shelter, and plenty of paranoia will stand the test of time and this will never be known. But while we wish Lee and El all the best, it certainly would be an interesting day in Court!