Family Law Experts Urge Couples To Get ‘Post-Nups’ Following Compensation Payouts

Lawyers Issue Warning After Wife Of Injured War Veteran Loses Legal Battle


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

Specialist family lawyers are advising couples to protect themselves by putting post-nuptial agreements in place should one of them receive a settlement to help with their rehabilitation from a serious injury.

The warning comes after the wife of an Afghan war veteran, who was paid a settlement of over £1 million to help with his recovery from his injuries, lost her legal bid to take a share of his specially designed home.

Brave Simon Vaughan, 31, a former corporal in the British Army, suffered "grievous and near-fatal injuries" when his patrol vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Helmand province.

The blast left him brain damaged, physically impaired and needing round-the-clock care from his former wife, Donna, 32, his mother and professional carer.

The court heard how the couple, who wed in 2002, paid £295,000 for a home in Newport, Shropshire, and an additional £300,000 to knock it down and build a new home tailored to Mr Vaughan's needs.

The strain on the couple resulted in them splitting and in February 2013 they found themselves embroiled in a bitter dispute over how the wounded soldier's compensation and insurance payments should be shared.

District Judge Richard Chapman, sitting at Telford Family court, considered the needs of the veteran's ex-wife, but ruled that the modified home should be handed over to the veteran.

He described the situation as a ‘tragedy’ and added that the couple "had their lives turned upside down as a consequence of the injuries suffered by Simon while serving his country on December 8 2008".

Mr Vaughan had been given over £1 million in compensation to help support him following his extensive injuries, including £570,000 under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and two insurance policy payouts.

The judge said that £200,000 remained in the cash fund and ruled that Mrs Vaughan be paid £1,500 a month in maintenance.

After the judgment was handed down family law specialist at Irwin Mitchell, Alison Fernandes, said it was important that couples protected themselves using legal agreements following settlements in personal injury cases. 

Expert Opinion
“We know from our experience just how devastating it can be for couples when one person suffers serious injuries which require compensation to help cover care costs and adaptations to their living arrangements.

“The sad reality is that in many cases a life changing injury can put tremendous strain on a relationship and can result in the breakdown of that relationship.

“Further heartache and legal battles could be reduced in these situations if couples put legal agreements in place whenever something significant changes in their lives, for example when one of them receives a large settlement to help with their rehabilitation and care costs.

“People may have heard of a pre-nuptial agreement, but it is important to regularly review these if you already have them and if there isn’t one in place, a post-nuptial can be agreed between the two partners.

“The agreement can specify how the couple’s finances are divided in the event of their separation and help avoid further emotional strain and legal battles.”
Alison Fernandes, Partner