Indiana lottery winner only has to pay fraction of winnings to estranged wife

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INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana man who won $2 million in the Hoosier Lottery must only pay his estranged wife $50,000 of the winnings, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

The couple, Jose De Jesus Carrillo Perez and Maria Guadalupe Vidrios Zepeda, married in 2002 and separated in March 2006, but neither one filed for legal separation or divorce, the Indianapolis Star reported.

“During the next six years,” the court order said, “the couple spoke only two or three times, never commingled assets, had separate bank accounts, and generally lived as single individuals.”

Carrillo Perez won the prize in January 2011 and two months later filed for divorce, which was granted in June 2012. But after winning the $2 million, Vidrios Zepeda wanted a piece of the prize, initially seeking $1.4 million, said Mark Chambers, Carrillo Perez’s attorney.

“The interesting thing for us was that the parties were separated physically, but they didn’t file for divorce,” Chambers said. “In the legal scheme, they were still married and the assets they accrued under standard divorce law would belong to both of them, and the presumption would be that they would be split 50-50.

“But this case was unique. When they split up, the wife took everything, and there was almost no contact for nearly six years until Jose won the lottery.”

In 2012, Allen Superior Court ordered Carrillo Perez to pay Vidrios Zepeda, $10,000 each year for five years from the money he won on a scratch-off ticket in 2011, and the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

Allen Superior Court Judge Charles F. Pratt “found that the extended physical separation, during which time no funds were ever commingled and each person lived as an individual, justified limiting (Vidrios Zepeda’s) equitable interest in the lottery winnings.,” the Court of Appeals ruled.

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