Holly Laiti has yet to speak publicly, but sources indicate that the 29 year old Idaho resident is the second winner in the second-largest mega-millions jackpot in its history. One interesting twist? Her estranged husband has been arrested nearly a dozen times, and convicted of offenses such as domestic assault, drug possession and providing alcohol to a minor. That’s not where the story ends.

“Estranged” is not a legally operative term. “Divorced” is. The couple, apparently, have not dissolved their marriage, despite living apart for an extended period of time. The result? Josh Laiti, Holly’s husband, is the country’s newest millionaire – to the tune of 40 million big ones – despite the fact that his marriage to Holly been, essentially, over for years.

This seems like an appropriate time to address the distinction between marital and non-marital interests.

Marital Property. “Marital property” involves assets acquired during the marriage, not otherwise defined as “non-marital property (discussed below). Marital property is subject to a “fair and equitable” division among the parties – almost always “equal.”

Non-Marital Property. “Non-marital property” involves assets:

  • Acquired before the marriage;
  • Acquired as a gift, or inheritance, made by a third party to one spouse, but not the other;
  • Acquired in exchange for other non-marital property; or
  • Acquired after the valuation date in the dissolution action.

In Minnesota, the valuation date, by statute, is the date of the “first scheduled pre-trial conference” (often many months following commencement of the divorce). However, in many counties, the date of the initial case management conference (almost immediately following the filing of the action) serves as the valuation date.

Appears Idaho’s law is similar to Minnesota. As a result, in the absence of filing for divorce, there is no “valuation date” to speak of among the Laitis. No other statutory definitions of non-marital property apply. Jackpot marital. Money divided between husband and wife.

Lucky Laiti. Unlucky lady.