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Texas court tackles compensation case between ex-wife and exoneree

As nearly all of our blog readers can tell you, family law can sometimes be a complicated thing. But through in other legal areas, such as criminal law, and this creates a whole new set of problems. Two Texas residents know this all too well this month as their first-of-its-kind case makes its way through the state courts in hopes of finding a resolution both sides can agree on.

Troubles for the couple began back in 1983 when the husband was convicted of a string of sex crimes. Despite his and his wife's insistence that he was innocent, he was forced to plead guilty in the hopes of a reduced sentence. Instead he got 24 years in prison and a strained marriage which left their son without a father.

Although his wife had visited him several times while he was in prison, both trying to make the marriage work, in 1992 the couple decided to call it quits and got a divorce. In 2009 though, through DNA testing, it was finally determined that the man had been telling the truth all along and that he was innocent of the crimes for which he had been convicted. In a settlement with the state, he was awarded $6 million in compensation.

But now the man has another battle on his hands surrounding whether his ex-wife is entitled to a portion of the settlement. Last year, a Dallas County district court judge awarded her $150,000 of the settlement for lost wages. The man is now appealing the decision, arguing that because he wasn't eligible for the compensation until after the divorce then his ex-wife had no entitlement to the money.

Unfortunately, no provisions were written into Texas law to account for this specific circumstance.  Furthermore, the law offers little guidance for the man who is also facing another claim from another ex-wife who is seeking child support payments she claims went unpaid while the man was in prison.

Source: The Monitor, "Exoneree faces ex-wife in compensation lawsuit," Brandi Grissom, June 18, 2013

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