Thomas and Denise Rossi were married for 25 years, when Denise shocked
Thomas by filing for divorce.
What Thomas didn't know was that Denise won $1.3 million dollars in
the California lottery 11 days before she filed.
Three years after their divorce, Thomas opened a letter he received in
the mail. The letter congratulated Denise on her lottery winnings. Funny
thing about those winnings though, Denise didn't tell Thomas about
them, nor did she disclose the information in her divorce papers as required
by California state law.
Thomas hired a lawyer who took his case to court.
The Court found that Denise had committed fraud and violated the state
asset disclosure laws. As punishment, the judge awarded ALL of Denise's
lottery winnings to Thomas.
The moral of the story: Dishonesty doesn't pay. In fact, it can cost
the dishonest person big time!
Denise not only lost her lottery winnings, but she also had to pay ALL
attorneys' fees and costs - hers AND Thomas'!
California law requires full disclosure of all income, assets, expenses,
and debts by both parties in a divorce matter. Moreovere, each party has
a continuing duty to immediately tell the other party any time there is
a material change from the disclosure. Thus, by law, Denise had to tell
Thomas about her lottery winnings. Had she followed the law, Thomas would
not have received all of her winnings. In fact he may not have received
any of her winnings.
The disclosure laws help determine property rights, spousal support, child
support, debt obligations and other issues in family law.