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It’s my money, says divorced spouse; think again, responds court

Most dollars spent with a narrow focus hardly weigh in later with material consequences. A pack of gum is, well, a pack of gum.

One unusual tale recently emerged in Michigan to underscore a stunning it-was-just-a-buck tale, though. We spotlight it for readers today because of its relevance to family law and divorce-tied property division.

Here’s the nutshell narrative of what happened in Michigan a few years ago: A man in the process of divorce plunked down a this-will-never-happen dollar to get a lottery ticket.

And then it happened: He won. He was undoubtedly floored by the after-taxes check awarded for $39 million.

He wasn’t the only elated party. The impending ex he was negotiating with in arbitration claimed that the dollar spent was marital property and that she was entitled to an equitable split of the massive jackpot.

That argument proved to be iron-clad under the state’s property distribution scheme. Connecticut has a similar framework guiding divorce-linked asset distribution, namely, that assets acquired during a union are marital property and subject to fair division between still-married parties.

The couple was still married when the man bought the ticket. The arbitrator ruled that the wife was entitled to a fair split of the lottery winnings. That was deemed to be $15 million.

An appellate court endorsed that ruling just last week.

Property division in divorce is often a complex and even contentious issue. An experienced asset-division attorney can answer questions and provide diligent representation concerning distribution matters.

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