The process of getting a divorce can take some time depending on the couple and the circumstances. Some couples elect to try a separation period before beginning formal divorce proceedings which can also extend the process. In 2013 a couple was separated when the husband won more than 30 million dollars in the lottery. In fact, Rich Zelasko and his wife had been separated for about 2 years when this happened. Naturally, Zelasko wasn’t agreeable with splitting the proceeds with his soon to be ex so the couple had an independent arbitrator settle the matter. Ultimately, the arbitrator and subsequent appellate court upon review determined that his wife was entitled to half of the winnings under the principle that the lottery winnings were marital property and thus, entitled to be shared by both parties.
The key here is the timing of the divorce and the winning of the lottery. Ultimately, the law only cares about the status of both parties at the time of the life event. In this case, because they were both legally married, regardless of their living status, they were obligated to split the lottery winnings. A different scenario would have existed if the divorce proceedings had been initiated prior to winning. In some states, if the parties have already initiated formal divorce proceedings the other spouse may not be entitled to the additional income.
The Faucette Law Firm represents clients in areas related to uncontested and contested divorce, child support, child custody, spousal support, adoptions and modifications. We have experience guiding clients through all facets of family law. Contact our office today for a consultation.