The ruling from Germany's Supreme Court in Karlsruhe on Wednesday afternoon follows years of legal wrangling between the estranged couple, who had been living apart for eight years but were not yet divorced when the man won the lottery in November 2008. He filed for divorce two months later.
The case was brought to the Supreme Court after a lower court of appeals in Düsseldorf upheld the man's claim to the entire sum of money, describing the woman's demands as “grossly unreasonable.”
But the Supreme Court did not consider the length of time the couple had been living apart as sufficient grounds for the man to keep the full value of the prize and ordered him to hand over €242,500 to his ex-wife.
"The law is clear, the cut-off date regulation applies," said the woman's lawyer, Peter Wassermann, who successfully argued in favour of treating the dispute as a standard division of marital assets rather than as a special case.
Supreme Court judge Frank Klinkhammer decided that the man's lottery win should be included in the calculation of his assets and, unlike cash gifts, inheritance and compensation payments, could not be treated as an exception. The man has also been ordered to pay both sides' legal fees.
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