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How Winning the Lottery Would Affect Your Divorce

Posted on in Division of Assets

How Winning the Lottery Would Affect Your DivorceWinning the lottery is not something that you can plan for, but how you respond to winning is important if you are going through a divorce. You must first determine whether your spouse is entitled to a share of the winnings as part of the division of property in Illinois’ divorce laws. If your winnings are completely your property, your sudden influx of money will still affect how you settle your divorce. What you cannot do is hide the fact that you have won.

Property Status

Whether your lottery winnings are marital property in a divorce depends on when and how you purchased the ticket:

  • Your lottery winnings would most likely be marital property if you purchased the winning ticket before you started the divorce process. Your individual income is marital income during your marriage, and purchases made with marital income are marital property; and
  • Your winnings could be individual property if you purchased the ticket while separated from your spouse but before your divorce is completed. You would need to prove that you paid for the ticket with your individual income.

Illinois law states that spouses must equitably divide their marital properties during a divorce. Your spouse would not necessarily receive exactly half of your prize money. Instead, he or she would receive what the court believes is a fair share of the money, depending on the duration of your marriage and his or her financial situation.

Other Effects

Winning the lottery would change the equation for determining child support and spousal maintenance. Courts calculate child support based on the income of each parent, and lottery winners often receive their money in incremental payments. Your lottery income would make you responsible for a larger percentage of your shared child support expenses. Spousal maintenance could receive a similar effect if your spouse can prove that he or she needs the support payments. Unlike child support, spousal maintenance is not mandatory in a divorce.


Some divorcees hide their lottery winnings until after the divorce is completed to avoid sharing the winnings with their spouse. They conveniently “discover” the winning ticket at a point when it would no longer be marital property. A court can vacate your divorce settlement if it determines that you knew about your lottery winnings in advance. Hiding your properties during a divorce gives you an unfair advantage and creates an unjust divorce agreement.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

You should immediately tell your attorney if you receive a sudden influx of money during your divorce. A Warrenville, Illinois, divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you legally protect your individual assets during a divorce. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.


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