Kevin Mansfield was a student when he lost his leg and suffered serious spinal injuries in a road traffic accident in 1992. He was awarded £500,000 compensation for his injuries, which may see him confined to a wheelchair in later life. He met and married his now ex-wife five years later; they have two children. The couple then parted in 2008.
At their divorce hearing last year, the judge ruled that Mr. Mansfield’s compensation should be ‘put in the pot’ and divided as an asset of the marriage. Mrs Mansfield was awarded £285,000. Lady Justice Black granted Mr. Mansfield leave to appeal this decision.
Lord Justice Thorpe sitting in the Appeal Court ruled that Mr. Mansfield’s compensation money should be ‘available to all his family’ and that the needs of his ex-wife and four year old twins were ‘primary’ and outweighed his own. He said that £285,00 may be on the ‘high side’ and that the wife was fortunate to receive that amount but it would be unprincipled for the Appeal Court to interfere in the original judgement. He imposed a £95,000 charging order on Mrs. Mansfield’s new home that should be paid back either when she remarries and has a partner that can support her, or when the children reach eighteen years of age.
Dawn Chisholm, Family Executive, says “This could prove to be an important case in divorce law, as it blurs the line between normal marital assets and compensation for personal injury payouts, which are usually considered as being calculated to meet life long medical costs. Please get in touch with us if it raises any questions for you or your situation.”