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Gambling, lottery winnings and child support

The recent story and emerging details concerning a New Jersey deli owner who won the fourth-largest Powerball jackpot in history include relevant information pertaining to child support and a not-often cited mechanism for collecting payments owed.

The man was the sole winner of a $338 million jackpot, which he opted to take as a lump sum. After taxes, that amount came to a whopping $152 million.

With that notoriety also came the story that the man was in arrears on his child support payments for several offspring to the tune of $29,000. In fact, there was an arrest warrant out for him.

Authorities stayed the warrant, enabling the man to appear in court and settle his obligation. New Jersey law actually provides that the money would have been paid, anyway, prior to disbursement of the lottery winnings.

The story has served to highlight a similar law in other states as well, including Georgia, which also provides for the satisfaction of past-due support from gambling-related winnings before they are released to a parent. The Georgia Division of Child Support Services refers to the law and mechanism for withholding as "lottery intercept."

The Georgia Lottery Commission reports all gambling winnings that exceed $600 to federal and state tax authorities. Additionally, the commission is tasked with checking to see whether a winner has outstanding support obligations. If so, an amount up to the entire amount owed is deducted prior to disbursement of winnings, provided winnings are $2,500 or above.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Powerball winner Pedro Quezada settles $29,000 child support debt," Alyssa Newcomb, April 1, 2013, "Georgia Lottery General Information," undated

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