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Estranged husband wins lottery, estranged wife seeks divorce

Illinois residents may be interested in a story from another state regarding a couple that had been estranged for years. The tale includes lessons in seeking a timely divorce and marital laws involving the division of assets. The couple had not met face to face in years and just recently sat across the table from each other for a divorce hearing. Exactly how long the couple has been estranged is not entirely known, but the wife said the divorce hearing ended a “six-year odyssey” for her.

In 2007, the wife suspected her husband, an airline mechanic, of something and searched his name on the Internet. She discovered he and some co-workers had won the lottery with an estimated jackpot of $19 million. At this point her husband had disappeared. Over the years the estranged wife tried to locate her husband to bring him to court but was unable to find him. In 2008, her case was thrown out of a Miami-Dade County civil court for lack of evidence.

Sometime in 2011, she must have located her husband and saw him briefly in mediation without talking to him. Her divorce attorney said that all the wife is looking for is what she deserves, which is her share of the marital estate. After her husband left, the wife went through some difficult economic times and she is hoping her legal battle to divorce her husband will be over soon. She said he had been dodging the system and thus far it has taken more than two years to bring her husband to court.

Divorce is never an easy process, but when one spouse refuses to cooperate by ignoring court orders and hiding assets, things can become much more complicated quickly. This story also demonstrates how not following through on a legal separation when the marriage breaks up can further complicate matters down the road. It is unclear whether the husband won the lottery after the couple separated or if that was the reason he simply disappeared. Either way, the winnings came about whilst he was legally married and thus become part of the marital estate.

Source: 7 News, “Estranged married couple fight over lotto winnings,” Jan. 16, 2013