Baldwin & Briscoe P.C.
301-862-4400
22335 Exploration Drive Ste. 2030
Lexington Park, MD 20653
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Divorce and the Power Ball

Tuesday’s big Powerball Jackpot did not allow any of us to retire.  It did give us a chance however, to take a look about how the courts have treated lottery winnings.  In Ware v. Ware, a husband and wife fought over $17 million won by the husband shortly after the parties separated.  The parties split just three years into their marriage because of the financial strain caused by Mr. Ware’s gambling (Sense the irony?).

        Four months after they separated, the husband won $17 million playing the Powerball.  Four additional months later Mr. Ware filed for divorce.  Initially the trial court awarded Mrs. Ware a lump sum of $1.6 Million and $3500 per month in alimony.  Neither party being happy, they both asked the court to modify its ruling.  The court declined, and an appeal followed.

        On appeal Mr. Ware conceded that the lottery winnings were technically “marital property” since they were acquired while the parties were married.  However, he argued that Mrs. Ware should receive nothing.  In a divorce case a court may divide marital property based on a number of factors, including how long the parties have been married, what financial contributions they’ve made and how the property was acquired. 

        In an earlier case, Alston v. Alston, the husband purchased a winning lottery ticket worth $1.5 million a year and a half after the parties had separated, but before they were divorced.  The wife had filed for divorce just prior to learning that Mr. Alston had won the lottery and dismissed her divorce proceeding upon learning of his good fortune.  Six months later she re-filed for divorce and sought a share of his winnings.  The trial court granted her an award of half of his winnings and it was upheld on the first level of appeal.  He appealed again and the decision was then reversed. 

        In Ware v. Ware, the court stated that the parties had been separated a shorter amount of time than those in Alston, four months versus a year and a half.  In Alston, the wife had already filed for divorce long before the winning ticket was purchased.  In Ware, neither party had taken formal steps toward divorce beforehand.  Also, in Ware, the court found that the husband would spend nights at his wife’s apartment and were seeing each other regularly even throughout their separation. 

        The trial judge found that there would be an unconscionable disparity in the standard of living between the parties without an alimony award.  Ultimately the Court of Special Appeals let the trial judge’s decision stand.  The court’s opinion reasoned that the money awarded was a matter of discretion for the trial judge and absent an abuse of that discretion, they were not going to reverse the decision of the judge.  Finding that the judge did not abuse her discretion, the decision of the trial court was affirmed.

 

The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. also offers these services:

Bankruptcy and ForeclosureBusiness LawCivil LitigationCriminal DefenseEmployment, Disability, and Consumer RightsFamily LawGovernment Contracts LawIntellectual Property, Personal InjuryReal Estate, Social Security Disability & Workers’ Compensation and Wills, Trusts, & Estates

 

 

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The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C.

22335 Exploration Drive

Suite 2030

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-862-4400 Phone

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Samuel C.P. Baldwin, Jr., Esq.

Janice Briscoe, Esq.

Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Esq.

David J. Hebb, Esq.

Sandra Kaufman Jonasen, Esq.


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With an office conveniently located in Lexington Park, The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Stienmetz, P.C. serves clients in the counties and cities of Lexington Park, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Mechanicsville, Loveville, Helen, Breton Bay, Chaptico, Charlotte Hall, Golden Beach, Avenue, La Plata, Waldorf, Newburg, Port Tobacco, Port Charles, Solomons Island, Prince Frederick, Chesapeake Shores, Hughesville, Benedict, Nanjemoy, Lusby, Port Republic, St. Mary's County, Charles County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland.


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