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Division of property unsettled for exonerated prisoner

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Typically, when a person thinks of a married couple building a life together in Texas, one may imagine the two spending years raising a family, sharing interests and making plans. If that couple should divorce, the division of property would include those things they accumulated over the years they lived together. For one couple, however, the life they had as husband and wife was anything but typical, and the asset causing the most contention is $20 million.

A young man convicted of a heinous crime and sentenced to life in prison may have expected the rest of his life to be little more than the daily drudgery of prison routine. However, when a woman began visiting him and writing him letters, things changed. The two began a courtship, which led to marriage. Soon, the woman encouraged him to seek help from an association dedicated to fighting wrongful convictions. The organization accepted his case and succeeded in having him exonerated based on DNA evidence.

Despite the 12 years of marriage while the man was incarcerated, the couple was ready to divorce within two years of his release. Meanwhile, however, the man had won a settlement for his wrongful imprisonment in the amount of $20 million, and the woman claims half of it belongs to her. An appeals court ruled that the money is martial property, but her ex-husband differs and is waiting for a state supreme court decision.

Even if couples in Texas are not disputing millions of dollars, their division of property may be equally as contentious. Items of value or sentimental importance may quickly become symbolic weapons, and disagreements may extend the proceedings unnecessarily. Having an experienced attorney to facilitate property division and other aspects of a divorce has proved beneficial for many. A lawyer will fight for his client's best interests and protect his or her rights.

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

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