Friday, 29 July 2011

Personal injury damages and divorce settlements

A 41-year old accident victim has lost his appeal against an earlier court decision awarding his ex-wife a large proportion of personal injury damages he received before the couple met.  It is reported that Kevin Mansfield was ordered to pay his ex-wife £285,000 from compensation of £500,000 to enable her to purchase a house suitable for her and the couple’s two children.  It is understood that Mrs Mansfield must, however, pay back £95,000 when and if she remarries or when their youngest child reaches a certain age (some 14 years hence).
When deciding a divorce settlement, the court will look at all the available financial resources, including the parties’ income, savings, property assets and pensions.  Personal injury damages are not given special treatment and the funds will be as relevant as the equity in a property or the balance of a bank account.
This does not mean that compensation monies will be always distributed equally.  The court will look at the specific circumstances of each case and try to balance the needs of both parties, with a particular focus on the needs of any children, as appears to have happened in Mr Mansfield’s case.
Mr Mansfield’s situation is an extreme one but the case does not change the law so much as clarify the divorce advice family law solicitors have been giving their clients for many years.  The case highlights the need to take family law advice when going through a divorce, contemplating marriage, or considering entering into a pre-nuptial agreement, especially if personal injury damages have been paid out or are awaited.

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