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Man Wins “Wheel of Fortune,” Wife Divorces Him: Who Gets the Money?

By Nottage and Ward on February 17, 2011

The Columbian reports that one couple’s divorce in Washington state has been complicated by the fact that one spouse won $51,600 on “Wheel of Fortune.” Now, the debate is whether the money is community property and therefore eligible for property division under law.

According to the article, the man won the money over a year ago, but the money is now in escrow until the courts can decide who gets what. His wife is asking for half of the winnings, though she filed for divorce before the show was taped. However, the couple reconciled some time later and moved back in together. The woman signed the man up to audition for the show, which he was selected for. The next month, she moved out and renewed her petition for dissolution of marriage, as well as requested the money be placed into a trust, pending the divorce’s outcome.

The heart of the issue is whether the winnings are community property of the couple. If a judge determines they are, the money would then be subject to Washington State’s community property law, which mandates the equal division of assets. If the winnings are concluded to be just the man’s property, the woman would not be eligible to receive any of it.

The man has filed a motion stating that the money is separate property while the woman argues that the money should be considered an earning. Additionally, she contends that the money was received while the couple was in a period of reconciliation, which means it should be considered community property.

Property division in Illinois divorce cases is not as simple as drawing a line down the center of your home, bank account, or other assets. When property is divided during a divorce, it is done so in specific ways that relate to the length of the marriage, as well as many other defined statutory factors, which can be complicated by issues of child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance. Often the process can be very complicated, which is why those facing divorce in Illinois should consult with an attorney from a family law firm.

The Illinois divorce lawyers at Nottage and Ward have practiced family law for over 20 years, and we can provide you the legal assistance you need during this difficult time. Call 312-332-2915 today.

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