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In the spring of 2013, the attention of many turned to one of the largest jackpots available in the history of the Powerball multistate lottery. Eventually, it was reported that Pedro Quezada of New Jersey was the sole winner of the prize. Quezada opted to take a $211 million lump-sum payment, rather than receiving the full amount of the $338 million prize in installments. However, New Jersey authorities made clear that the $29,000 Quezada owed in child support arrears would be deducted before any payments were made to him.
Other than perhaps Quezada himself, few people would have any quibble with this relatively small deduction from his jackpot winnings. After all, the obligation to support one’s children is firmly established in both law and morals. To the extent Quezada can use his newfound wealth to make up for any past failures to satisfy his child-support obligations, he should do so. Similarly, many would agree that Quezada’s minor children should be able to share in his lottery winnings. However, reasonable people may disagree regarding whether this should be in the form of increased mandatory child support payments, or whether Quezada should be able to independently determine how to share (or not share) his newfound wealth with his children as part of his parental prerogative.