If you’re being honest, you have wanted a divorce for years. You do not love your spouse. You just didn’t feel like you had the financial means to go out on your own.
Then luck finally went your way. You won the lottery. While you’re not bringing home hundreds of millions of dollars, the winnings are certainly enough to start a life on your own. You decide to file for divorce.
That’s when your spouse says that they’re entitled to half of your winnings because you were married when you won. They claim that this means the winnings are a marital asset that must be split. Is this true?
Your winnings are a marital asset
Unfortunately for your bank account, your spouse is correct. Remember that Texas uses community property laws. As noted by the Texas State Law Library, this means that “any property acquired by a couple during their marriage…is equally owned by both spouses.”
There are a few exceptions. For instance, an inheritance that is given directly to one person may retain its status as separate property if it is not shared with the spouse. However, almost all assets that you obtain are legally considered equally owned, and they must be divided as such. Since you won the lottery while you were married and living together, even though it spurred the divorce, your spouse does have a right to that money.
This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t get divorced, just that it’s very important to understand how the law is going to impact your case.