How Lottery Winnings Are Divided in a Divorce

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If you've won the lottery and are wondering what would happen to the winnings in a divorce, check out these helpful answers.

When the Ticket Is Bought before the Divorce

If the lottery ticket is bought while you are married and before the divorce, the winnings are considered marital property and are generally divided 50-50 (although sometimes 1 spouse may get slightly more than the other). This is usually based on the assumption that the ticket was purchased with marital funds and anything purchased with the winnings would have been enjoyed equally by both spouses. Exceptions can sometimes be made for couples who are married but separated without intention of reconciling or where the ticket was purchased with nonmarital funds, although it can be tricky to establish what qualifies as nonmarital.

When the Ticket Is Bought before the Marriage

If the winnings are the property of only 1 spouse because they were won before the marriage, it is generally decided that they are the sole property of that person unless they are used in joint funds after the wedding. For example, if the winnings were put into a joint checking account it would be impossible to definitively declare how much of those funds are the property of the original winner, and therefore, they would most likely be be divided equally between the 2 parties.

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