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Lottery Winnings Affect Uncontested Divorce

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 6-Mar-2013

Lottery winnings can affect an uncontested divorce. If the winnings were won during the marriage it is then generally considered marital property. Lottery winnings prior to the marriage or after the date of divorce are normally considered the property of the winning spouse.

Generally, the legal system tends to speculate that a lottery ticket during marriage was purchased with marital funds. If the spouse wins the lottery prior to the divorce date, even though he or she may be separated, the lottery ticket can be considered marital property and can be used to negotiate the marital settlement agreement.

Although monies won from a lottery ticket before the marriage are generally considered non-marital property there is an exception. If the monies from the winnings were commingled with marital funds then the lottery winnings can be considered marital property. For example, if monies from the lottery were place in a joint bank account and the monies cannot be easily traced to the lottery winnings.

Winnings from a lottery after an uncontested divorce can still affect the winner. He or she may be required to pay more child support. The winnings can be perceived by the court as income. In addition, if his or her spouse was not receiving alimony (spousal support) the non-winning spouse may now have a case, although this is rare.

Some ex spouses will try to evade paying additional child support by not taking the yearly payments from the lottery. Instead the ex spouse will take a lump sum. If the ex spouse invests money from the lump sum which then produces income, this will be considered additional income. Thus, additional child support can be requested.

Lottery winners sometimes try to hide their winnings from their spouses. If a spouse is discovered hiding this marital asset, he or she runs the risk of losing a considerable amount of the winnings. Some judges have awarded the entire winnings to the non-winning spouse due to perceived fraud.

If you play the lottery it is advisable that you wait to play until after your uncontested divorce is finalized. The date on your lottery ticket can determine how much of the winnings you get to keep. If you are looking for a happy ending you may want to watch What Happens in Vegas starring Cameron Diaz.