It’s over ninety degrees in Texas but it’s going to get a lot hotter. A court battle is heating up over the estate of Thomas Araguz in Wharton, Texas. Araguz, age 30, was a fire captain in the Wharton Fire Department before he lost his life in a blaze on a local chicken farm on July 4, 2010.
Araguz’s life insurance policy of $500,000 should be distributed to his wife of two years, Nikki, and his two children from a previous marriage, however, Araguz’s parents and ex-wife are asking a court to block the distribution and anul Mr. Araguz’s marriage to Nikki Araguz. If that occurs, the children will receive the entire life insurance policy proceeds, presumably to be managed by the children’s sole custodial parent, Araguz’s ex-wife.
The family is relying on a case decided in Texas in 1999 where the court held that same-sex partners cannot marry and the State of Texas does not recognize gender reassignment.
Nikki was born Justin Perdue in 1975 and claims that her husband knew about her gender reassignment and supported her during reconstructive surgery. The problem is that earlier on, Mr Araguz’ ex-wife was challenging Mr. Araguz for custody of their two children and to present the best case in court, both Thomas and Nikki Araguz swore under oath that Mr. Araguz knew nothing about her previous life as a man.
Now Nikki says that they both lied to the court in order to receive a more favourable result in the custody action. Public opinion in Texas is mixed but most people believe that the money should go to Nikki, as do I.
“It is always the best policy to tell the truth, unless you are an exceptionally good liar.”
Jerome K. Jerome British writer and humourist
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang