The impact of brain injury on relationships

Fri 5th Jul 2024

A brain injury can be a distressing experience which continues to impact a person throughout the rest of their life. This can also have a significant impact on relationships with many couples finding their lives dramatically changed. Should the changes result in a breakdown of the relationship, it’s important for those married or in a civil partnership to consider a pre or post nuptial agreement (pre nup).

These agreements help couples show what they intend to happen to their finances upon divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. As part of the assets and finances stipulated, it is possible to include any personal injury settlement. Whilst many couples find the topic of money difficult to discuss, in these instances exploring ways to safeguard a damages settlement is important.

Julie Hatton, Partner in the Clinical Negligence Team, and Sarah Evans, Head of the Family Team at Coodes explore the impact of brain injuries on relationships and how to safeguard damage settlements.

The impact of brain injury on relationships

The impact of a brain injury can continue beyond the recovery period, and many find their lives are forever changed. The effects can be emotional, physical, behavioural, and cognitive.

Whilst no two experiences of suffering a brain injury are the same, in many cases this can result in changes which impact relationships too. These changes can include:

  • Changes in communication
  • Changes in personality
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Changes in cognitive ability
  • Practical changes in the role of the partner

Treatment of damages awards in a divorce settlement

If the person who has suffered the brain injury is awarded damages through a personal injury settlement, a nuptial agreement can help protect the damages in a divorce.

Although it is legally impossible to ringfence the personal injury award in these proceedings, if an agreement is entered during the relationship it demonstrates to the judge the intention of the award to remain with the Claimant.

If you have not signed a pre or post nuptial agreement with your partner prior to divorce or dissolution, then there is no standard formulae for calculating appropriate financial provision. The court has a duty to consider all the circumstances of each case and to take into account a range of specific statutory factors with first consideration being given to any children of the family.   

Considerations taken into account to calculate and then distribute the parties’ available resources to achieve a fair outcome will include:

  • Income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources
  • Financial needs, obligations and responsibilities
  • Standard of living
  • Age of the parties and length of marriage
  • Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties
  • Contributions
  • Conduct

Damages are not ringfenced and can be treated as available resources and used to meet needs.

Next steps

At Coodes our Family Team understand how sensitive these money conversations can be. We can help you navigate the complexities with personalised advice. If you are looking for expert support, contact Sarah Evans via email at sarah.evans@coodes.co.uk or call 01579 324010.

Alternatively, you can contact Julie Hatton, Partner in the Clinical Negligence team at julie.hatton@coodes.co.uk or call 01326 214 036.

Fri 5th Jul 2024

Sarah Evans

Head of Family

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