A suburban Detroit man who won more than $30 million in the lottery must give half the windfall to his wife, the Michigan appeals court ruled last week.
Rich Zelasko and Mary Beth Zelasko were in the middle of a divorce and had already been separated for two years when he bought the Mega Millions ticket in 2013. But the court said the woman is entitled to $15 million awarded by an arbitrator, who determined the ticket was marital property, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
The judge’s reasoning was that the marriage had not officially ended. The divorced was only finalized in 2018.
“Rich was lucky, but it was his luck, not Mary’s, that produced the lottery proceeds,” the man’s attorney said in a losing argument.
Rich Zelasko and the gender wars
Whether men or women tend to come out on top is a hotly contested question in the “gender wars.”
Men complain that because they tend to earn more, they take a bigger hit when marriage ends. But women note that they often often suffer more post-divorce because they have put their careers on hold to raise children.
Not everything is about money, though. In March, the Arizona appeals court ruled that a woman named Ruby Torres could impregnate herself with embryos she and her ex-husband had preserved during their marriage. Despite his objections to the plan, the ex, John Terrell, could even be required to pay child support.
“It is, of course, true that if Torres were awarded the embryos, Terrell could be legally responsible to financially support the children,” the ruling stated. “That reality is the same today as it was when the parties executed the (in vitro fertilization) agreement nearly four years ago.”