Michigan man, 50, who won $80million in the lottery DURING his divorce is told he must give half of it to his estranged wife
- Richard Zelasko and Mary Elizabeth Zelasko were married from 2004 until 2011
- She filed for divorce then and he won the lottery in 2013 while they were negotiating
- It was a $80million Mega Millions and after taxes, he won more than $38million
- Now, a court arbitrator says it is marital property an Mary Elizabeth is entitled to half of the cash
- She claims she was the breadwinner during their marriage, earning between $100,000 and $120,000 compared to his $36,000
- She also said that after she filed for separation, he gave her no financial support for their three children
A Michigan man who won an $80million lottery while he was getting divorced has been told he must give half of his windfall to his estranged wife.
Richard Anthony Zelasko, 50, has been told he must give his estranged wife Mary Elizabeth, 48, half of the money he received because an arbitrator handling their divorce deems it marital property.
The couple from Pontiac, Michigan, were married between 2004 and September 2011, when Mary Elizabeth filed for divorce.
In 2013, while they were negotiating it, Richard won an $80million Mega Millions lottery.
After taxes and fees, he walked away with a lump sum of more than $38million.
Mary Elizabeth claims in court papers obtained by DailyMail.com that she was the breadwinner, earning between $100,000 and $120,000 throughout their marriage in her job as in advertising sales for Conde Nast while Richard earned $36,000.
Richard Zelasko won $80million in the Mega Millions in 2011 but after taxes and fees, was left with $38million
The couple have three children together.
In his decision, arbitrator John Mills argued that while it was his first winning ticket, it was probably not the first ticket Richard bought during their marriage, often using their shared money to get it.
‘As losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly,’ he said.
‘It’s true that defendant spent $1.00 to purchase the winning lottery ticket, however the dollar spent was arguably marital money and, as such, a joint investment,’ he added.
He also claimed that since their separation, Richard did not give Mary Elizabeth any financial support for their three children.
In 2013, she was awarded $15million of the lottery money.
Richard has been fighting the decision ever since but the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the decision last week.
The pair have been fighting for six years over the money.
In 2014, the court awarded Mary Elizabeth monthly child support payments from Richard of more than $7,000.
Later that year, the arbitrator who made the decision died without ever issuing Mary Elizabeth’s award.
Richard tried to have all of his decision vacated but the court denied it and appointed a different arbitrator.