Everyone dreams of winning the Lottery – especially now that Californians get to play Powerball. Many people would believe that Lottery winnings would not be considered income for child support purposes. However, the Powerball lottery winnings may be considered income for child support purposes.
At least where the child is a public assistance beneficiary or income from other sources would yield a child support award below the public assistance minimum, a parent’s lumpsum lottery winnings are properly factored into his or her “annual gross income.” [County of Contra Costa v. Lemon (1988) 205 CA3d 683, 688, 252 CR 455, 459 (public assistance case; decided under Agnos Act)] This result is in keeping with both the tax model of income (¶6:201.1) and the generally-accepted definition of income (¶ 6:201.3). [SeeMarriage of Scheppers (2001) 86 CA4th 646, 651, 103 CR2d 529, 533-as a return on investment of capital, gambling winnings are taxable income (dicta); Marriage of Heiner, supra, 136 CA4th at 1521, 39 CR3d at 736 (same) (dicta)] 1/ [6:201.6] These cases would lead one to believe that the lump sum lottery winnings would be considered income that would be used in the calculation of child support. Perhaps the lump sum would not be used but certainly the income that is derived from the lump sum would be considered income for support purposes. However, this rule may be limited to public assistance cases. Even so, later authority indicates the treatment of lottery (gambling) winnings as income for formula child support should be limited to public assistance reimbursement cases or where excluding the winnings would result in support below the minimum basic public assistance standard. [See County of Kern v. Castle (1999) 75 CA4th 1442, 1450-1451, 89 CR2d 874, 879-880-distinguishing Lemon, supra, and commenting “there is no question the (public assistance) circumstances played a major role, perhaps the pivotal role, in the court’s decision” (parentheses added);Marriage of Scheppers, supra, 86 CA4th at 651, 103 CR2d at 533]
If you have questions if whether lottery winnings used for child support, or if any other unexpected money can be used for child support, please contact our office for a consultation.