Reported Lottery Win Raises Questions Amid Indiana Divorce

A man embroiled in a Shelbyville, Indiana divorce had hit the jackpot – literally – or so it seemed at first.Our Highalnd divorce lawyers understand that as it turned out, the winner was actually an older woman in her 70s. But the case brings up a number of good points for those going through a divorce – even if you aren’t lucky enough to win the lottery.

According to the Indy Star, the situation at first seemed almost like a made for television drama. At stake was a $35 million state lottery jackpot.

The estranged wife of the Hoosier Lotto jackpot took to the local airwaves recently, saying she wanted to make sure she got a share of the winnings. She even met with an Indiana divorce attorney, who filed a motion to stop the husband from spending any money at all until all financial matters can be resolved.

Apparently, the relationship between the two had been strained for some time. They had married in 2008, but were planning a divorce. However, the two still lived together, dated on and off and have two children together. The husband, however, had been reticent to actually follow through with filing a divorce.

Speaking to a local television station recently, the wife told a reporter that her husband called her up out of the blue and asked if the divorce could be made final. Because the sudden turn of events didn’t seem to make sense to the wife, she asked if he had won the lottery or something. She said he avoided the question at first, but then later conceded, he had, in fact, won. She says he tried to conceal those winnings from her and quietly get a divorce so that she wouldn’t be entitled to any of it.

The truth of the matter, however, is that he was not the winner – although several local television news stations had aired information indicating that he was. Apparently, several reporters forgot to check their facts.

However, the wife is still not 100 percent convinced. Her lawyer has filed a temporary restraining order on the husband’s expenditures as a matter of precaution.

“If he doesn’t have any winnings, obviously it doesn’t have any effect,” the wife’s lawyer was quoted as saying.

At issue here is whether the wife would be entitled to those earnings, even if the two were separated. Under Indiana Code Title 31, the wife would have been entitled to half of those winnings, as they would have been obtained during the course of the marriage – regardless of whether the two were personally estranged.

Generally, division of property and assets in an Indiana divorce is going to be split down the middle, 50-50. There are a few situations in which that could be argued that such a division could be disputed:

  • If the property or income was acquired prior to the marriage or through an inheritance or gift;
  • If one spouse contributed significantly more to the acquisition than another;
  • If there are children involved and one spouse is seeking to stay in the marital house with the children;

In reality, however, property valuations and other considerations give your attorney much room with which to work. And failure to protect yourself could result in an inequitable property settlement.

Additionally, attempting to hide any of these assets can result in legal repercussions. One way to avoid this is to have a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage, so that these type of issues are sorted out before there is any animosity between the two parties.

What this case also proves is that dragging your feet on a divorce is not always in your best financial interests.

If you are contemplating a divorce, make an appointment with an experienced Highland family law attorney to discuss your options.

Indiana Divorce Attorney Burton A. Padove offers free and confidential appointments on family law matters throughout Northwest Indiana, including Munster, Lansing, Porter and Crown Point. Call 219-836-2200.

Additional Resources:
Lawyer: Winner of $34.5M Hoosier Lotto jackpot is elderly Shelbyville woman, By Jon Murray, The Indy Star

More Blog Entries:
Indiana Divorce Proceedings Can be Affected by Social Media, Feb. 21, 2012, Indiana Divorce Lawyer Blog

Finances and an Indiana Divorce Go Hand-in-Hand, So Be Prepared, Jan. 24, 2012, Indiana Divorce Lawyer Blog

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