WASHINGTON COUNTY, MINNESOTA: The police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has had a divorce settlement between him and his wife, Kellie Chauvin, rejected by a judge in court. The divorce settlement would transfer most of his assets to his wife before his trial in court for the murder of George Floyd. The judge involved in the divorce case also cited the possibility of fraud.
Kellie Chauvin filed for divorce on May 31, shortly after the George Floyd case that inspired widespread protests throughout the United States. According to the Star Tribune, Kellie is asking for sole ownership of both of the couple’s homes — their primary home in Oakdale, and a townhouse in Windermere, Florida, which were bought in both their names after their marriage in 2010. Some have speculated that the true motive behind this divorce is to protect Derek Chauvin’s assets in case his court case involving George Floyd goes poorly.
The Washington County District Judge Juanita Freeman wrote in her October ruling that there was a “badge of fraud” about the case. “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,” she wrote. Despite this, she did not actually charge the couple with fraud, nor did she openly question the motives behind their divorce. Derek Chauvin himself is unrepresented in the divorce case, though his criminal attorney in the George Floyd case declined to comment. Kellie Chauvin’s divorce petition has gone uncontested by him, but Freeman’s ruling states that judges can deny such an uncontested divorce settlement between couples if they see fit.
Local divorce attorneys called the ruling ‘rare.’ Divorce attorney Marc Beyer speculates as to the motivation behind the divorce settlement, saying, “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,” adding, “That may be what the court is getting at when it references ‘badges of fraud’.”
The exact terms of the couple’s divorce agreement have been heavily redacted in a document that was filed on September 30. According to Washington County records, the Oakdale house is valued at $273,800, while property records put the Florida townhouse at a current value of $226,282. Derek Chauvin earned $52,000 to $72,000 annually between 2014 and 2019 as a police officer in addition to nearly $96,000 working a second job in private security.
By law, judges are required to ensure that divorce settlements are equitable, but Minnesota state law also encourages settlements that minimize court involvement. “It’s unusual that a judge would reject a stipulated agreement,” said divorce attorney Victoria Brenner. “They receive them happily, knowing that they’ve avoided any more administration of this case and a trial, which is really time-consuming.”
The case has been set for a pretrial hearing on March 26 and for trial on April 26. Derek Chauvin and the other three officers involved in George Floyd’s death are expected to stand trial sometime in March.