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Man's legal settlement subject to property division

When a Maryland couple prepares to divorce, both spouses understand that much of the wealth accumulated during the course of the marriage will be subject to division. In fact, the property division process is one of the primary areas of focus in any divorce. Many property division matters are simple, but there are some circumstances in which things can become incredibly complicated.

An example is found in the case of a man who was wrongly imprisoned for a crime that he did not commit. The man was accused and eventually convicted of murdering an 11-year-old girl. However, DNA evidence eventually led to his exoneration and release from prison. He successfully pursued a wrongful conviction lawsuit, which led to a settlement in the amount of $20 million.

While in prison, the man married a woman who visited and supported him while he was behind bars. However, that marriage ended in divorce a few years after his release. His wife argued that she was entitled to a portion of his settlement. The man argued that the settlement should not be considered marital property due to the fact that the conditions that led to the settlement took place long before the marriage began.

The case went before an appellate court, and a recent ruling affirms that the wife has a valid claim to a portion of the settlement. Because the lawsuit began while the marriage was in effect, the court asserts that the proceeds should be considered marital wealth. The matter will continue to move through the appeals process, and many Maryland readers will check back to see how the property division matter is ultimately resolved.

Source: abajournal.com, "Exonerated inmate's $20M settlement is marital property in divorce, appeals court says", Debra Cassens Weiss, Oct. 6, 2016

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