Winning the lottery probably sounds like a pretty good thing. And it’s probably not a bad thing.
But there are some times when it’s not quite as good as it would be at other times.
For example, Husband and Wife hit a rough patch in their marriage. Husband decides to file for divorce.
As a distraction / consolation, Husband buys a lottery ticket. Lo and behold, Husband wins the lottery. Wow!
His cup runneth over. Until Wife exults over how lucky they are.
Huh?! Husband objects.
Which of them has a leg to stand on? That depends.
On when the Petition (complaint) for divorce was filed. Relative to when the lottery ticket was purchased.
If Husband purchased his lottery ticket after filing for divorce, then it really was his lucky day. The pot is all his.
If, on the other hand, Husband bought his lottery ticket before filing for divorce, well, then he was not quite as lucky. The pot is marital property, and Husband will have to be split it with Wife.
While this will be a bitter pill for Husband, there is a bit of a silver lining in that the court can take the new, big financial picture into account in its other money / property rulings in the case. It’s called equitable distribution for a reason.
Read more in this National Law Review article: Powerball Winner & Divorce?