In March 2013, a 45-year-old man won a $338 million jackpot in the Powerball lottery. It was later discovered that the man owes approximately $29,000 in past-due child support. The county sheriff’s department is looking for the man to resolve an outstanding warrant for non-payment.
If the amount in arrears is not paid, the winner may be arrested. A spokesperson for the state released a statement that any child support owed is typically deducted from a winner’s award before the remainder is paid. The winner elected a lump-sum payout, which gives him a payment of $221 million before taxes. This amount is more than enough to pay the support owed.
The man has five children. The state did not indicate for which child the support was owed, or whether the support is owed to more than one of the children. The past due payments date back to 2009.
Florida has many ways to enforce a parent’s obligation to pay child support. One way is to garnish the non-custodial parent’s wages or seize federal or state tax refunds. The state suspend the person’s driver’s license, as well as the ability to obtain or renew a United States passport. If a person who owes child support wins a lottery payout, the state can seize those winnings and apply them to the amounts owed. Child support may not be discharged in bankruptcy. In some cases, a family law attorney may be able to help custodial parents collect the child support amounts to which they are entitled by law by attempting to locate the non-paying parent’s employer or seize any assets.
Source: Miami Herald, “NJ’s Powerball winner owes $29k in child support,” March 23, 2013