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Playing the lottery with non-marital assets, part 1

A story crossed our desk recently, a story about a couple who were not married either before or after the woman purchased a winning lottery ticket. They purchased three properties and, we hope, invested elsewhere. When they separated, a court had to determine the division of assets purchased with the $3 million.

In Illinois, things may have gone differently.

The couple lives in Australia. The two are in their 20s, and although they had lived together on and off, they had never married. We'll refer to them as Ms. K and Mr. C.

At the time Ms. K purchased the winning Powerball ticket in October of 2008, she had been living with Mr. C for just a month. She had spent most of the year before in women's shelters.

When the couple appeared before the magistrate to determine the property division, the court's main questions was, who had purchased the ticket? The magistrate told the press that both parties were "very poor witnesses," apparently lying to bolster their claims.

Ms. K told the court that she alone had purchased lottery tickets. Mr. C was dismissive of this indulgence and urged her not to bother with it. Further, she said she had always referred to the tickets as "her tickets." Finally, this wasn't the first time she'd won -- she had several winning tickets for admittedly much smaller amounts, and she had not shared the winnings with Mr. C.

In our next post, we'll discuss Mr. C's version of events and how the court decided. The Illinois question won't go unanswered, we promise.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), "Lottery winners unlucky in love," Kim Arlington, 05/14/2011

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