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Illinois Supreme Court rejects appeal in high asset divorce

Any divorce in Illinois will have a number of issues that have to be settled, but this is particularly common when there is a substantial amount of money at stake. With a high asset divorce, the dispute can be ongoing and contentious. Certain disagreements with property division are inevitable at the end of a marriage, but during a high asset divorce, these can spiral into a long and seemingly endless battle. This is particularly true when one spouse receives an unexpected windfall.

A divorce between a man who received a $20 million settlement for a wrongful conviction, and his wife, will move forward after the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal filed by the man. Having been convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, the man was eventually freed with the help of DNA testing. He was released in 2012 and subsequently filed a lawsuit, which was settled for $20 million. After taxes and legal fees, he was about to get $11.4 million. But, he had married in 2000 while he was in jail and filed for divorce two years after he was released.

After the financial settlement, the couple has been in dispute over whether there should be a designation of the money as marital property. Initially, a trial court decided that the money was not marital property and not subject to property division, as it came from injuries he suffered before the couple was married. The wife filed an appeal on the matter and won. The man then filed a petition for review at the Illinois Supreme Court, but it refused to hear the case. The divorce is scheduled to proceed in July.

While this case is unusual, couples will often have financial situations change prior to the divorce. When there is a high asset divorce, having legal help is imperative to protecting oneself and settling it in a manner that is acceptable.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "$20 million wrongful conviction settlement headed for divorce court," Luke Hammill, Jan. 27, 2017

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