Man Ordered to Pay Ex-wife Half of Lottery Winnings

Court rules: The winner of a NIS 4.2 million Mifal Hapayis lottery prize must divide his winnings with his ex-wife.

The winner of a NIS 4.2 million Mifal Hapayis lottery prize will have to divide his winnings with his ex-wife, the court has ruled, since the two had been married at the time he bought he ticket.

The couple were married 37 years ago, and had two children together. In 2001 the husband bought the winning ticket, but destroyed it by mistake. After the man petitioned the court to order the Payis to recognize him as the winner, the Supreme Court finally ruled in 2005 that the man was indeed entitled to the prize. Three years earlier, however, after he had won the drawing, the man filed for divorce, and his wife sued for half of the couple's assets, including one half of the lottery prize.

The two reached a partial agreement to divide their joint assets, but the question of when their separation began remained a bone of contention, and with it, the question of whether the lottery ticket should be considered joint property. The wife argued that until he left, the husband had resided in their joint household and the two had enjoyed a good relationship, other than occasional arguments typical of all couples. Therefore, she said, she was entitled to half of the lottery prize.

The husband said that his ex-wife had filed for divorce without his knowledge in 1999. The two had been separated since that time, and the joint property had been split up afterwards, and therefore his former wife was not entitled to one half of the lottery winnings. The woman testified that she had filed for divorce in 1999 after she had learned that her husband was cheating on her, but that the two had reconciled shortly thereafter, and that the initial divorce case had been closed in 2000.

The court found that the two had continued to live as a couple until the husband moved out, in 2002, after he had purchased the lottery ticket, and ruled that the wife was therefore entitled to one half of the award.