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May 31, 2011

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Woman gets share of late partner's lottery cash

A WOMAN has been awarded part of her late partner's 5 million yuan (US$769,230) lottery win, despite the fact that they never married.

The Songjiang District People's Court yesterday acknowledged their 20-year relationship to be a common law marriage.

It ruled that the woman, surnamed Zhang, together with her daughter, should receive more than 2 million yuan in cash while a villa and car should go to her stepson.

Zhang, a retired teacher, began living with her partner, surnamed Li in 1988. Both already had children, Zhang her daughter and Li his son, who was three years old at that time.

They didn't register the marriage because they could each get a 10 yuan monthly subsidy - a significant sum at the time - from their employers if they remained legally single.

In 2002, Li won a lottery prize of 5 million yuan. He bought a villa in Songjiang's Jiuting area and a car. The family moved into the villa and enjoyed a much higher standard of living.

When Li suggested marriage, Zhang felt unsure and embarrassed as they were already middle-aged.

She thought the family were living in harmony and needn't make the relationship legal.

However, in 2007, Li died of a heart attack while at home alone.

After Li's funeral, his son took all of his father's estate and refused to admit Zhang was his stepmother.

Zhang and her daughter filed a lawsuit asking the court to divide the value of the villa and car according to the law.

Zhang produced seven witnesses to prove she and Li had lived as a couple for 20 years.

But Li's son claimed he had lived with his grandmother and the villa had been bought by his father alone.

The court acknowledged the common law marriage and ruled Zhang should enjoy rights of a wife because the cohabitation started before February 1, 1994, when a new marriage regulation was issued which did not protect common law marriages.

The court ordered that the value of the villa - now worth 3 million yuan - and the car should be divided equally between Zhang, her daughter and her stepson.

As Li's son owned the villa and car, he was told to pay more than 2 million yuan in cash to his stepmother and stepsister.


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