Divorce And The Powerball

Divorce And The Powerball

So, you just lost the Powerball drawing. Were you really surprised?

But, you are going through a divorce, and was it better that you lost? If you won, would your spouse get half? Would it increase the child support you would have to pay? If you receive child support, would it go up?

How about alimony? If my spouse won the Powerball, will that help me get alimony, or higher alimony? If you won the Powerball, would you have to pay more alimony?

So, the real question is—who thinks like this? The answer is me, the divorce attorney.

There are at least three distinct ways you have to deal with lottery or gambling winnings in a divorce case. First is the division of assets. Second is child support. Third is alimony. Let’s look at each briefly.

Maryland is an equitable asset distribution state. If you win the Powerball, your spouse does not automatically get half. It’s up to the judge. There are more than a dozen different factors the judge looks at before even making that decision. Let’s say your spouse is a lying, cheating, son of a gun, leaves you for his mistress, and two years later, a month before your divorce trial, you win $10 Million.  A great deal of judges are going to say that based on the reasons for the divorce and the length of separation, your spouse gets nothing.

Now let’s talk about alimony. The conversation is similar. If your spouse wins the Powerball and takes a lump sum payment, that can be handled with an asset distribution. However, let’s say your spouse wants a 20 year annuity of monthly payments. That might get you some alimony, where you can a cut of everything your spouse gets.

Finally, let’s talk about child support. The logic will follow the same as alimony. Winning the Powerball is not income for child support purposes, it is an asset. However, if you take an annuity, it sure looks like income to me!

And as always, you can’t win if you don’t play. That is kind of like asking whether it is best to have loved and lost or never loved at all, right?