Do you have to share your (big) lottery winnings in a divorce?
First off, congratulations on your lottery win! Secondly, when did you win the lottery? Was it before or after you separated? When did you buy the ticket? Before or after you separated? Before you divorced, but your numbers hit afterward? These facts could make a huge difference. If you only won $2 or $100, you may not need to be concerned that the winning will affect anything in your divorce settlement. But if you made it big, you may have to share your lottery winnings in your divorce, depending on a number of factors.
Lottery winnings during marriage are typically considered community property in Texas and are divisible at the time of divorce. The Judge has the right, at the time of the divorce, to make a just and right division of the community property. It does not have to be 50/50 in every case. If you won the lottery after you have already separated and divided up your property, you could make the argument that you had already separated and divided your assets prior to winning, and, while the winnings may be community property, the Judge might award them, or most of them, to you.
Every court is different, and there are a lot of factors as to how lottery winnings might be handled, so talk with a good family lawyer in your area to see what the Judge in your case might or might not be willing to do. Also discuss the exact facts of your purchase of the ticket, including what funds you used to buy it, to make sure there are no special circumstances in your case that could affect the characterization of the winnings.
The winnings might not be considered income for child support purposes. However, interest or income generated by the winnings could be and many lottery jackpots generate enough income that they could change your child support.
Whatever the case, be careful not to spend more in attorneys fees arguing over the winnings than you actually won. Half of a “free” big lottery sum is better than giving all of it to the lawyers in the case.