Are Lottery Winnings Considered Marital Property?
One of the more famous divorce cases in recent years in Florida involves lottery winnings. A couple had been separated for years but not formally divorced, and when one spouse won hundreds of thousands of dollars in the lottery he vanished to avoid paying his spouse her share of the winnings in a formal divorce. Whether or not lottery winnings are considered marital property can be one of the biggest questions in a Florida divorce case, and the experienced Tampa divorce lawyers at the law office of Blair H. Chan, III are here to help with this and any other questions that may arise in your divorce case. To learn more, call or contact our office today.
When the Ticket is Purchased Prior to Divorce
If a winning lottery ticket is purchased prior to a divorce, it is considered marital property under Florida law. As such, the winnings are subject to equitable division rules that require all marital property to be split equitably, but not necessarily equally. Unlike community property states, the lottery winnings do not have to be split 50/50, but the likelihood is high that it will be a fairly equivalent split. The court will look at the total of other marital assets, liabilities, and how these are divided when determining how much of the lottery winnings should go to each spouse.
When the Ticket is Purchased During Separation
The splitting of lottery winnings becomes more complicated if one spouse purchases a winning ticket during a legal separation but before the divorce is finalized. Generally speaking, the Florida court has considerable leeway in determining whether and to what extent lottery winnings should be split in this situation. While the winnings may be deemed marital property, the court may award a larger share or the entirety of the winnings to the spouse that purchased the ticket in this situation.
When the Ticket is Purchased After a Divorce
If a winning lottery ticket is purchased by one spouse after the divorce is finalized, those winnings are considered separate property. The other spouse is not entitled to any of the lottery money as part of the equitable distribution of marital property. However, it is important to note that winning the lottery after the divorce has been finalized may entitle a former spouse to request a modification of alimony payments or child support if it is determined that the amount of lottery winnings constitutes a substantial change in circumstances. To learn more about how timing can impact the determination of property in your divorce case, talk to our office today.
Call or Contact Our Office Now
Lottery winnings can be a contentious part of any divorce, but at the law office of Blair H. Chan, III in Tampa Bay our dedicated legal professionals are here to protect your interests in a divorce. To learn more about your legal options, call the office or contact us now to schedule a evaluation of your case.