Tennessee residents who are separating from their spouses may wish to consider holding off on purchasing a lottery ticket until their divorce is finalized. Because the Volunteer State divides up marital property through an equitable distribution system, a winning jackpot might require giving an amount that is deemed “fair” to a soon-to-be ex-spouse. Newsweek reported a story about a man who purchased a lottery ticket with an $80 million jackpot. He was ordered to give part of his winnings to his ex-wife because the money he used to buy it was considered part of their marital property.
Two years after filing the paperwork requesting a divorce, a very lucky Detroit resident purchased a Mega Millions lottery ticket and won the $80 million jackpot. Because his divorce was not yet finalized, his soon-to-be ex-wife requested through the court that she receive a payout from his winnings. During the couple’s arbitration procedure, it was determined that part of the husband’s winning jackpot should be given to his wife because the couple was still legally married when he bought the ticket. The few dollars that he used to purchase the winning lottery ticket were still considered part of their marital property. The arbitrator also found that the husband did not sufficiently contribute to his children’s financial support, and his wife was awarded $15 million.
In an equitable distribution state such as Tennessee or Michigan, a divorce might take longer to complete because the full extent of the marital property may need to first be divided up fairly between the two spouses. As explained by Forbes magazine, a property division such as splitting a home through a fair and equitable distribution system might require getting an appraisal and then purchasing a spouse’s interest.