Life was looking up for Richard A. Zelasko. After suffering through years of terrible marriage, he was finally getting divorced. Because the divorce papers were just about to come through, he decided that he was feeling lucky, so he went out and bought a lottery ticket. As it turned out, he won an $80 million jackpot, which was enough cash to change the course of his life forever.
However, that’s where Zelasko’s luck ran dry. A Michigan appeals court has decided that Zelasko has to share the $80 million jackpot with his wife, which could not have been worse for the man who was just about to finalize his divorce from the cruel, conniving woman.
Zelasko has been met with bad luck after nearly two years of filing for divorce. Because the couple was not officially divorced until 2018, the jackpot winning he got from the Mega Millions had to be paid out to his hateful wife to the tune of $39 million. That’s how much she was set to receive after taxes and deductions.
The arbitrator has ruled that the lottery winnings were to be shared by the couple because it was part of the couple’s marital estate. The court upheld the arbitrator’s decision which stated: “that that was probably not the first lottery ticket that defendant purchased during the marriage and that, as losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly.”
The arbitrator ruled that Zelasko had to pay his ex-wife Mary E. Zelasko a whopping $15 million. That decision was upheld in court.
Because Zelasko spent only a dollar to buy the lottery ticket, the arbitrator decided “the dollar spent was arguably marital money and, as such, a joint investment.”
When the decision was brought before the court, they found nothing wrong with this decision. Although it was very upsetting for the man who won the jackpot right before his divorce went through, the court thought it was fair, legally, to share the winnings with the wife.
“It’s very difficult to overturn an arbitration,” said Michael Robbins, who’s represented Richard Zelasko since 2015.
Meanwhile, an attorney for the wife refused to share a comment with CNN, citing the reason for refusing to comment as being that the case was confidential.
Do you think it is fair that the husband has to share part of his jackpot winnings with his wife although they were already going through the divorce proceedings?
On the surface, I understand why this decision was made. However, I do not have access to all the confidential paperwork and financial documents that would shed light on who was providing the income to invest in the lottery gamble. If the money was solely coming from the husband or solely coming from the wife, I could see an argument to question the decision. However, since money is often split down the middle in a divorce, it seems that this ruling was fair, although Zelasko would certainly not be happy with sharing millions of dollars in winnings with the wife he is trying to leave.
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