A man from Washington state won almost $52,000.00 on Wheel of Fortune…just when he was trying to reconcile with his estranged wife. Now that the couple has broken up for good, they’re arguing over she is entitled to a share of the money:
It all started in March 2008 when Carrie Dole filed for divorce in Clark County Superior Court. However, the couple later decided to reunite and moved in together.
At the prompting of his wife, Scott, a part-time longshoreman, decided to audition for “Wheel of Fortune” when the show had open casting calls in Portland in 2009. “I’m good at the show, so she signed me up,” he recalled.
Weeks later, the dog and cat owner got a congratulatory letter, telling him that he would be featured on the show’s Pet Lovers Week.
In October 2009, the Doles went to Culver City, Calif., to film the show. Coincidentally, the couple started arguing again, Scott Dole said, and on the day of filming, they didn’t speak at all.
Scott Dole said he didn’t talk to Carrie until after he won the money, when she was congratulating him on the set.
“It’s pretty funny how money mends wounds,” Scott said.
It didn’t mend the wounds enough. The next month, Carrie Dole moved out again and renewed her petition for dissolution. With the renewed petition came the request that the “Wheel of Fortune” winnings be placed into a trust pending the outcome of the divorce. The money, which is $46,988 after taxes, was then placed in escrow at a local bank.
The divorce is scheduled to go to trial May 2.
At issue is whether the money is the couple’s community property — and would, therefore, be subject to the state’s community-property law mandating equal separation of assets — or whether it’s just Scott Dole’s property.
Scott Horenstein, a prominent Vancouver divorce attorney who is not involved in the case, weighed in on the dilemma. He said he thought the case hinged on whether the two were living together at the time Scott Dole won the money and whether the prize money could be considered an earning, falling under the community-property law.
“It’s not clear-cut,” Horenstein said. But “everything you do when you’re married is joined,” including winning a game show while on your marriage is on the rocks, he added.
Horenstein did say, though, there could be a legal loophole for prizes that he’s not familiar with.
Last year, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia (Family Division) ruled that a lottery winner did not have to share his winnings with his former common-law partner, but I’m not sure whether this particular issue for a married couple has been argued in this province. Courts in Alberta and British Columbia, though, have ruled that lottery winnings are not exempt from matrimonial property division.