Are TV Game Show Prizes Marital?

Canadian Husband and Wife have their ups and downs.

Wife files for divorce in March of 2008, but the couple reconcile.

In 2009, Husband, who does well playing a TV game show at home, tries out to appear on the show – after Wife applies for him.

Husband is accepted on the show.

The couple travel together to California in October 2009 for Husband to appear on the show.

And Husband wins. $51,600.

A pretty good chunk of change for the couple, being a school teacher and a part-time longshoreman.

After Husband’s victory, Wife again takes up her divorce case.

Now, Wife asserts a claim to half of the game show winnings as marital property.

Husband maintains that the entire pot should go to him alone, since Wife had filed for divorce before his game show appearance. Husband also suggests that the prize money is not “income” or “earnings” as contemplated by (Canadian) divorce law.

To protect her interests, Wife asks the court to order that the entire prize be deposited into a special account until the couple agrees what happens to it or the court enters an order on the subject.

A year later, the battle drags on.

Trial, and a ruling on the pot, approaches.

Generally, under Florida divorce law, the date of filing of the petition for divorce is the cut-off date for purposes of determining whether property acquired by either or both spouses is marital or nonmarital. But, where, as here, an open divorce case is not active and the couple resumes the marital relationship in all respects, it tends to negate the breakdown of the marriage legally required for a divorce under Florida divorce law.

Timing is everything.

Read more in this [Vancouver, WA] Columbian article: ‘Wheel of Fortune’ jackpot at heart of divorce battle.