Lottery Winnings: Alimony

Are lottery winnings to be considered income for purposes of modification of maintenance subsequent to the entry of a divorce decree?

This is the exact question that was brought before the Illinois Appellate Court in the case entitled, “In re Marriage of Broughton.”

Although a “Supreme Court Rule 23” case, which means the case may not be cited as precedent by any party, the case of IRMO Broughton provides insight into how Illinois courts will classify lottery winnings in regards to modifying a maintenance award to a spouse subsequent to a divorce.

In Brighton, the parties, Myra and Roger, were divorced in July 2011, ending an eighteen-year marriage. Roger was initially ordered to pay maintenance in the amount of $1,500.00 per month to Myra. This maintenance award was later reduced to $650.00 per month by agreement of the parties.

On May 16, 2016, Roger won $700,000.00 playing the Illinois Lucky Day Lottery. After-tax payments, Roger received a lump sum of $423,749.00.

Myra, who had not been employed since 2009, and who had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, filed a petition to increase her maintenance based on the fact that Roger won the lottery.

The trial court agreed with Myra and awarded her a lump sum maintenance payment of $127,125.00.

The Illinois Appellate Court upheld the trial court decision and stated that lottery prize winnings do, indeed, constitute income for purposes of determining maintenance.