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Playing the lottery with non-marital assets, part 2

We're continuing the story from our last post of the unmarried couple who won the lottery. They split up a year later, and the court had to decide how to divide their assets. Last time, we reviewed the claims of the woman, Ms. K. Here, we will review the man's, Mr. C's, claims as well as the judge's decision. And, of course, we'll also discuss how this all might have unfolded in an Illinois court.

Mr. C soundly disputed Ms. K's version of events. They both played the Powerball, he said. Every week, one or the other or both would pay for the tickets, and the understanding had always been that winnings were to be shared.

The record came down in Mr. C's favor. The couple claimed the winnings together, and the check was made payable to Mr. C's account. The court concluded that the facts suggested the winnings were considered by both of them to be jointly held.

In the end, the court gave Ms. K $100,000 and divided the remainder equally. The judge explained that Ms. K earned less than Mr. C, and the $100,000 was meant to make up for that.

If you shift the case to Chicago, the couple's relationship would determine if their case was heard as a family law matter or a contract issue. Every case is different, of course, and so much depends on state law and all the facts of the situation.

Still, when $3 million in Powerball winnings is involved, it is fun to speculate.

We know that the couple had never been married, but they had been together on and off for a number of years. Perhaps theirs was a common law marriage? Is there such a thing under Illinois law?

We'll continue the discussion in our next post.

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

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