Winning the lottery can be a gift and a curse. You’ve attained financial freedom and have the potential to care for generations of your family to come. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to your newfound fortune. There are taxes that cut into your winnings–and, sometimes, former spouses taking you back to court?
This is exactly what happened to a New Jersey man who won $273 million in March 2019. The man had visions of a new truck, a family vacation and renovating his mom’s home. Renegotiating his divorce agreement likely wasn’t on that list.
However, his ex-wife is likely within her rights to modify their agreement. The man was a stay-at-home dad for years while his wife worked. He had looked for work before winning the lottery but was unsuccessful and reportedly declined a job interview request after winning. She had been supporting him through alimony payments after their divorce.
The ex-wife is now asking the court to waive her alimony payments. She had been making payments for one year and had four more years of court-ordered payments but feels her support is now insignificant to her former spouse after his lottery win.
Lottery winnings can affect your alimony agreement
New Jersey law determines alimony on many factors. The need and ability for the wife to pay and likelihood for her ex-husband to otherwise maintain a quality standard of living are applicable relevant factors in this case. While there is no law addressing specifically what happens if an alimony recipient wins the lottery, the state alimony statute permits the court to award or modify an agreement based on any factor deemed relevant. An alimony recipient suddenly winning over one-fourth of a billion dollars certainly seems relevant.
Winning the lottery may bring financial support for generations of your family but you must take the good with the bad. Receiving such a large influx of income could have effects on any preexisting legal agreements you have, like an alimony agreement.