A Illinois man may have to split his wrongful conviction settlement award with his ex-wife. The couple was married while the man was incarcerated for an event that took place before they were married. After the man was exonerated in an appeal, he filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit and was awarded $20 million. The couple was still married when the lawsuit was filed.
The man was originally convicted for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in 1992. When the man filed an appeal in 2011, DNA evidence cleared him of the crimes, and he was released the following year. The man was married to his wife in 2000, and the couple filed for divorce in 2014.
While the couple has been working out property division issues in their divorce case, the man has argued that the settlement award he received for his wrongful conviction is not marital property. The matter was taken to the Illinois Court of Appeals, and the court ruled in the wife's favor. The wife has argued that the wrongful conviction lawsuit was filed during the marriage, and damages that were claimed in the lawsuit, such as defamation of character, occurred during the couple's marriage.
Many different issues can complicate a divorce, and some financial disputes are not easily solved. Having the assistance of a family law attorney might be advisable when there is a disagreement over property division, child support or alimony issues. An attorney might help a client reach a settlement outside of court and then submit the agreement to the court for its approval.
Source: Streetwise Journal, "Exonerated Man's $20 Million Settlement Considered Marital Property in Divorce," Jacob Maslow, Oct. 16, 2016