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Judge cites possibility of 'fraud' in rejecting proposed Derek Chauvin divorce agreement

By Chao Xiong, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS — A divorce settlement that would have given most of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's assets to his wife was rejected by a judge who cited the possibility of "fraud" for her decision.

Kellie Chauvin filed for divorce on May 31, days after her husband was charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, leading some to speculate whether it was a divorce of convenience to protect their assets against lawsuits in civil court.

Washington County District Judge Juanita Freeman wrote in her October ruling that judges can deny an uncontested agreement reached between a couple, such as with the Chauvins, if "the transfer features 'badges of fraud.' "

"The Court has a duty to ensure that marriage dissolution agreements are fair and equitable," Freeman wrote. "One badge of fraud is a party's transfer of 'substantially all' of his or her assets."

Freeman did not accuse them of fraud or discuss motives.

Calling the judge's ruling "rare," local divorce attorneys said it adds to suspicions that Derek and Kellie Chauvin are trying to protect their assets.

 

"This is just speculation, but it's possible that the (agreement) was intentionally drafted to get assets out of Chauvin's name in anticipation of a civil judgment against him from the estate of George Floyd," said divorce attorney Marc Beyer. "That may be what the court is getting at when it references 'badges of fraud.' "

Kellie Chauvin's attorney, Amanda Mason-Sekula, did not return a message seeking comment.

Derek Chauvin has no attorney in the divorce. His attorney in the criminal case, Eric Nelson, did not return a message seeking comment.

Attorneys for Floyd's family filed a federal lawsuit in July against the city of Minneapolis, Chauvin and three of his former colleagues who assisted in Floyd's May 25 arrest — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.

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