What is a wife entitled in a divorce regarding their souse’s lottery winnings? dad won a florida lottery 2 months ago , wife suspiciously wants divorce now. what would a judge say?

A couple of months ago, my dad won money and now for no apparent reason his wife wants a divorce. He’s a retired 75 year old; she is as well. We think that she’s trying to divorce to take his winnings. There wasn’t any abuse or fighting; her leaving was unsuspected and out of the blue; she just picked up her things and left. They’ve been married 9 years and were low income before the prize. Is there a way to prevent her from taking money from his prize? Would a judge grant her half his money?

Asked on September 19, 2018 under Family Law, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Any items acquired during a marriage is considered to be marital property as is subject to division in a diovrce. Accordingly, a spouses's earnings are deemed to be marital income. Therefore, when you buy something with marital income then that item becomes marital property. Further, if that property purchased gains in value, such as a lottery ticket, the appreciation between the purchase price of the ticket and the total winnings is usually subject to division in a divorce settlement. However, whether or not your wather's wife receives 50% is a decision to be made at a judge’s discretion.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

While there are many factors to consider in dividing assets, so we are not offering this as the exact answer for all cases, as a general matter, yes--she is entitled to half his winnings. Any money made or received by a spouse during marriage, with the very narrow exceptions of money inherited solely by one spouse or gifted by another person solely to one spouse, is marital property. Just as she's entitled to a share of the money in the bank from working/salary/wages, she's entitled to a share of lottery winnings.

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