Florida Corrections Secretary recently pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from the operator of commissaries in Florida prisons.
As part of the punishment for his crimes, the Corrections Secretary forfeited his pension and retirement benefits.
The Corrections Secretary was married to his wife throughout nearly his entire corrections career. They were just divorced.
As part of the property division in their divorce, the Corrections Secretary was awarded half of his pension and retirement benefits – the ones he forfeited when his crimes caught up with him.
Will the Corrections Secretary’s wife get to keep her share of the pension and other retirement benefits?
The argument on behalf of the state is that the wife’s benefits derive solely from her husband’s now-forfeited benefits.
The argument on behalf of the former wife is that she was an innocent spouse, who did not commit any crime or have any knowledge of her husband’s criminal activities.
The concept of the innocent spouse is borrowed from US tax law, grounded in principles of fairness and equity.
It appears that the appropriate family court orders for the wife to receive her benefits were already entered. Therefore, the burden will be on the state if it wishes to challenge her entitlement.