Forensic Neurpsychiatry Examination and Diminshed Capacity for Marriage

By: Harold J. Bursztajn, M.D.

Annulment of Marriage
Doe v. Doe
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Forensic Neuropsychiatric evaluation used as the basis for settlement of an Annulment of Marriage. John Doe, a student in a prestigious, ivy league college with a brilliant prep school and college background suffered brain injury as a result of an automobile crash. Subsequent to a protracted rehabilitation period, he recovered moderately. Residual dysfunction included a loss of all autobiographical memory from before the accident as well as having difficulty in concentrating, understanding affect and articulating interpersonal problems, and semantic memory loss. Furthermore, he spent the many years after the accident as a laborer at around $10/hour for a company that his family owned, and after the sale, for the company under the new owner. A number of years later after the loss he became involved in a relationship which seemed like an obvious mismatch to all who knew him prior to the accident. Prior to the marriage John Doe was not under a guardianship. His parents put several hundred thousand dollars of liquid and non-liquid assets in his name so that if the father died, John Doe would be able to take care of himself. In that context, John Doe married and when his wife sought divorce, she sought it under the normally existing rules which would permit her to receive alimony and perhaps a division of the marital assets. Dr. Bursztajn's forensic neuropsychiatric examination of John Doe, including brain imaging, established his incompetence to enter into a marriage. Based on this finding, a mutually satisfactory financial settlement was reached and the marriage was annulled without a split in assets.