Injured war veteran at risk of losing compensation in divorce

By Lenore Rice

A war veteran who was left severely brain damaged when the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan is now facing the prospect of losing his injury compensation in his divorce.

Simon Vaughan was injured in a Taliban attack in Musa Qala in December 2008, and was not expected to survive by army doctors, such were the extent of his injuries. After 3 months in a coma the prognosis was that he could remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life as a result of the severe damage to his brain, as well as other injuries such as a broken back, jaw, femur, shattered pelvis and collapsed lungs. He is now able to communicate by typing into an electronic device after making what was described as a 'miraculous' recovery.

Corporal Vaughan received £1.1million in compensation from a government fund and private insurance. It is understood that around £200,000 is left following costly renovations to his property to adapt it to his needs. In February 2013 Corporal Vaughan and his wife separated and a battle began over his compensation money. His wife is entitled to make a claim to a portion of his compensation to help her raise their two children, but because very little of the compensation money is left Corporal Vaughan is now in a position where he may have to sell his home, which is in fact registered solely in his wife's name.

The case raises important issues in respect of how compensation awards should be treated when it comes to the division of assets in a divorce. The amount awarded in compensation claims is usually calculated based on the lifetime care needs of the injured party. Some would argue that to take away any of that compensation from the injured person would render them unable to fund their care needs later in life. As such, it is argued that compensation should not be added into the assets pot when it comes to reaching a financial settlement in a divorce.

The matter is complicated however if the compensation considers loss of earnings and provision for the family. If the injured person's partner becomes the resident parent in the event of a divorce the argument is made that they should receive a portion of the compensation towards maintenance for the children.

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