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Judge solves divorce puzzle, splits 'Wheel of Fortune' winnings

It doesn't happen all the time, but once in a while a Colorado divorce judge might encounter some unusual issues when deciding how a couple's assets should be divided when they divorce. A recent case in Washington State is a perfect example.

A man who was on the game show 'Wheel of Fortune' in 2009 reportedly won $51,600. His wife was beside him, smiling and embracing him. Soon after that, however, they began divorce proceedings. This week, a judge decided they should split the winnings, with each taking half.

There were a number of factors that complicated the decision. First was answering the question of whether the couple was really together when the 'Wheel of Fortune' episode was taped. According to an article published in the Seattle Times, the woman had already filed for divorce at the time, but the judge decided the couple was actually reconciled, since she accompanied her husband to the taping and stayed in a hotel with him.

The next question: was the money simply his property, or was it "community" property, subjecting it to the state's community-property law, which would mandate separating assets equally? The judge went with the latter answer, splitting the earnings down the center line, giving each $25,800 before taxes.

The money has reportedly been sitting in escrow during the couple's divorce proceedings. According to sources, after the paperwork is finalized, the money will be disbursed to the couple in approximately two weeks.

It is an unusual situation, to be sure, and illustrates one of the complexities of divorce.

Source: The Seattle Times, "'Wheel of Fortune' jackpot split 50-50 in divorce," Laura McVicker, 26 May 2011

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