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Authorities ask to garnish woman's retirement fund for ex's fraud

A woman who lived in Plano, Texas, got divorced from her husband and left the state, trying to put him and his legal issues behind her. She moved to Tennessee, got married again, and thought she was done with it.

However, the Dallas U.S. attorney's office recently started a lawsuit targeting the woman, asking for her retirement fund to be garnished. The woman works as a teacher and was counting on the fund to live on after her career ended. The authorities say they have a claim to it because her ex was involved in fraud and they want restitution.

Specifically, the man has been ordered to pay criminal restitution after over-billing Medicare for use of a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, which is considered Medicare fraud. He was ordered to pay $1.5 million.

The issue is that the woman was given 100 percent of the retirement plan when the two divorced, even though Texas uses community property laws, which generally stipulate that all property will be divided 50/50. The government seems to suspect that she and her husband may have agreed to give her all $28,000 in the account so that 50 percent would not go toward those restitution payments.

The woman says she never knew that her husband broke the law. She also says the divorce agreement was legitimate and not some attempt to scam the government out of $14,000.

This case provides a very interesting mix of criminal law and divorce law, and it showcases just how important it is to know the specific divorce laws in your state -- and how they're usually applied -- when splitting up.

Source: The Dallas Morning news, "Feds want former Plano teacher's retirement fund money to pay for ex's fraud," Kevin Krause, July 07, 2016

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