In Divorce, Timing Is Everything

In Illinois, what is the protocol for an ex-spouse winning the lottery shortly after the divorce? Michael Craven has the answer, and what the circumstances would be for sharing the lottery winnings with your ex-spouse. An important point to remember is be

By Michael C. Craven
Updated: July 29, 2014
Divorce Settlement/Preparation

On March 18, 2010, shortly after divorcing his wife of 16 years Kevin Halstead won $3.8 million in the lottery. Halstead, a London bus driver, told the Daily Mail: "We divorced three months ago and split up about 13 years ago but we stayed friends - we did not get a divorce back then for the sake of our Jessica."

Since the Halstead's divorce was final prior to Halstead's windfall, here are some questions that may arise. The answers to these questions will depend on how carefully Kevin's lawyers prepared his divorce agreement.

  • Will the ex-wife fight for some of the winnings?
  • Is Kevin's windfall a basis for the ex-wife to increase her settlement?
  • Will Kevin have to pay alimony?
  • Will she try to remarry him?

Incidents like this demonstrate why details matter so much in divorce agreements. According to Illinois law, the winnings would be Kevin's sole property since they were won after the divorce. However, had the Halsteads stayed separated and never divorced, the wife would be entitled to share in the winnings. If he purchased the ticket before the divorce was final but cashed it in after the divorce, the answer would be different.

The question of alimony, known as maintenance in Illinois, is not so clear-cut. Here, if an ex-wife waived her rights to alimony, she would not be able to increase her settlement. However, if she was receiving alimony, she might be able to modify the agreement, depending on the agreement's wording.

It is important your divorce agreement is written clearly and without ambiguities. You must understand each and every term of your agreement, so make sure your attorney explains it in detail. Do not sign anything unless you know what it means. Well-written divorce agreements reduce the chance that you and your ex-spouse will be back in court.


Chicago lawyer Michael C. Craven represents clients in all areas of family law including divorce, property division, custody, child support, paternity, domestic violence, and the preparation of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. He draws on his previous experience as a tax attorney to negotiate and litigate complex financial issues in matrimonial cases.


For more articles on divorce preparation, visit http://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Divorce_Settlement_Preparation.

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April 13, 2010
Categories:  Legal Issues

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