Wife of soldier loses £1m divorce battle

Divorce|November 18th 2015

The ex-wife of a British soldier wounded in Afghanistan has been told she is not entitled to most of his remaining compensation money.

Simon Vaughan was a lance corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The 31 year-old suffered serious brain damage in 2008 when the Taliban blew up a vehicle he was travelling in. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded him over £1 million pounds to fund his long-term care.

However, the money was paid into a joint account that he shared with his wife. She used it to buy a bungalow for £295,000 without getting a survey first. Due to structural problems, the house then had to be demolished and rebuilt at an additional cost of £300,000.

With only £200,000 of the compensation money remaining, Mrs Vaughan then sought £185,000 in the couple’s divorce. She also wanted a share of the rebuilt bungalow, which her former husband shared with his mother.

District Judge Richard Chapman criticised Mrs Vaughan’s financial decisions which, he said, “both in hindsight and at the time, she should not have made”. He also claimed she had failed “to provide full and truthful information” to officials from the MoD about what she was planning and had refused their help in managing the money.

The judge ruled that she was only entitled to £10,000 in the divorce settlement but ordered Mr Vaughan to pay her legal fees of £85,000. Judge Chapman also ordered the former soldier to pay off a £30,000 mortgage on a second property which his ex-wife would then own.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Vaughan said the judge’s decision was “as good as it can be given the law” but that he was still in “worrying position where [his] future is concerned”.

His 53 year-old mother is now his full-time carer. Speaking to The Telegraph, she said that the MoD “should have automatically put trustees in place” when they made the compensation award. This would have prevented Mrs Vaughan from making decisions by herself.

The MoD “failed [Mr Vaughan] when they put that money in a joint account when they knew with his injuries he couldn’t deal with that money”, his mother insisted.

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  1. Luke says:

    I have always thought the term ‘needs’ was a way for the legal system to just do whatever it wanted and this case seems to me to amply demonstrate this.
    The wife has blown 30% of the money for his long term care money due to her incompetence – and she is also leaving him (which is of course her right even if it isn’t very nice) and the mother is going to have to step in.
    The money is REALLY needed for this man who sacrificed his health for his country and if ever there actually was a case where ‘needs’ should apply THIS IS IT – and yet the court doesn’t do that and still gives her some more of his award after she has wasted at least 30% of it !
    Of course that’s partly because she needs most of it to pay her lawyers, the legal profession gets to generously “wet its beak” with £85k of his award money because the legal profession (like any other) always looks for a “nice little earner” whatever the situation.
    The truth is that it is obvious she should have got nothing and the lawyers who represented her ridiculous claim should have been forced to eat their costs – but that will never happen with our system – and the fact that they have taken so much of a severely injured soldier’s award is shameful.

  2. Nordic says:

    The wife should have been left with her own legal debt and the lawyers, who spent half the pot in pursuit of this frivolous case, with the problem of recovering their fees. Clearly, the paramount consideration for this judge was neither justice nor the evident needs of a wounded veteran, but as always making sure the lawyers were kept whole.

    What a sick outcome, What a sick system of family law.

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