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Property division not easy for man with $20 million settlement

There are at least two sides to every divorce. This may be especially true when it comes to property division and determining the status of certain assets. In most cases in Louisiana, marital property includes anything that was acquired while a couple was married. However, sometimes it takes the courts to determine the extent to which that definition reaches.

When one woman in another state met her future husband, he was serving life in prison for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. She visited him regularly and wrote him dozens of letters. While he was still incarcerated, they were married. Her devotion even prompted her to present his case to a group that advocates for those wrongly accused of crimes. The result was the review of DNA evidence and the exoneration of her husband after 20 years behind bars.

Within two years of his release, the couple divorced. However, his wrongful imprisonment had netted him a $20 million settlement, and his wife insisted that she was entitled to half of the money. An appeals court agreed that the money was marital property, but the man has asked the supreme court of his state to remove the settlement from their divorce proceedings. He refutes her statements of devotion and says she misrepresents their relationship.

The decision of who is entitled to the money will rest with a judge sometime next year. Meanwhile, each party relies on his or her attorney to establish a strong case for his or her side. Although Louisiana and most other states follow formulas for property division during a divorce, not every asset is easily defined as marital property. This is why having an experienced family law attorney is invaluable in protecting one’s interests.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Couple fights over millions he won for wrongful imprisonment“, Mitch Dudek, Oct. 9, 2016

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