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Man ordered to share lottery winnings in property division

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2019 | Property Division |

Couples who realize that a marriage is no longer sustainable often seek separation before they begin divorce proceedings. Those who have initiated those proceedings may believe that property division agreements only apply to those assets that were jointly owned during the time of their co-habitation in marriage. However, depending on the circumstances and Texas laws, assets that were acquired during a separation will likely be included.

One man discovered that his luck in winning a lottery jackpot was not so lucky after all. He and his wife purportedly separated in 2011. Two years later, he decided to take a chance on playing the Mega Millions lottery game. To his delight, he was the winner of an estimated $80 million prize. After taxes and associated fees, he was left with approximately $39 million.

To his surprise, his spouse requested her share of the winnings. Even though the couple had separated two years before the winnings, they did not officially divorce until 2018. They agreed to arbitration to try to come to a consensus on their settlement. The arbitrator stated that the wife was entitled to $15 million since the purchase of the ticket was considered a marital investment. Lawyers for the husband submitted requests for appeals on the basis that the couple were separated and on the possibility that a mistake was made in the decision.

To date, the appeal was denied and one of the man’s attorneys remarked that it is difficult to overturn any decisions made in arbitration. Texas divorce laws do not make provisions for separation during a marriage. Unless there is a formal written document stipulating that certain assets are to be considered separate property, community property states regard any assets acquired during marriage as marital assets and therefore subject to property division. Residents who are concerned about protecting their financial well-being during and after a divorce may wish to consult with an experienced attorney.