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Woman Must Split Jackpot With Estranged Husband?

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By Minara El-Rahman on January 19, 2011 11:46 AM

An Idaho bank clerk who won half of the $380 Mega Millions lottery may have to split the jackpot with estranged husband Josh Lahti. While the two have had a checkered past, there is no record of a divorce on file, USA Today reports. As a result, under Idaho community property law, Joshua Lahti may be entitled to half of Holly Lahti's winnings.

Holly Lahti married Joshua Lahti in 2001 and they were legally separated but not divorced, according to MSNBC.com. During their marriage, Joshua Lahti was arrested for violating a no-contact order and battery in 2002 and 2003. In January 2003, both Holly Lahti and Joshua Lahti were arrested on battery charges. Joshua Lahti has been convicted of domestic battery, drug possession, and buying alcohol for a minor. He has been arrested more than 12 times. The pair have two daughters ages 10 and 12.

Generally, community property includes all property and income acquired during the marriage. Specifically, in Idaho, all property acquired after marriage by either husband or wife is community property. The income of all property, separate or community, is community property unless the conveyance of the property allows for only one of the spouses to receive it or there is a written agreement specifically designating that property to be separate.

The good news is that Holly Lahti will not be liable for the debts of her husband under Idaho community property law. However, it remains to be seen whether she will have to share her lottery jackpot with her husband.

In the meantime, the Idaho Lottery has said that it will only make a payout to one person: Holly Lahti herself. "Holly is the person who claimed the ticket, so she's the person we'll pay," said David Workman, an Idaho Lottery spokesman.

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