A wealthy journalist has won a High Court dispute in Britain with his estranged wife over the length of their marriage.
Ngela Jilina, 49, and Walid Abu-Zalaf, 64, who have ties to former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, had asked Mr Justice Mostyn to make decisions related to the breakdown of their marriage.
Ms Jilina, who is from Russia, said the marriage broke up in 2020, Mr Abu-Zalaf, editor of the Palestinian newspaper Al-QudsIt broke in 2013, she said.
Lawyers had told Mr Judge Mostyn his decision would affect how much Ms Jilina gets off under a prenup – noting that hundreds of thousands of pounds are at stake.
The judge reviewed arguments at a recent hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London and ruled in Mr Abu-Zalaf’s favor on Monday. He said the case was “just about money”.
Mr Judge Mostyn heard Ms Jilina and Mr Abu-Zalaf together had accumulated more than £400,000 in legal bills – and hinted the case was unique.
Ms Jilina told the judge how she worked with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and how she and Mr Abu-Zalaf attended the wedding of the Blairs’ daughter Kathryn three years ago.
The judge also heard that Mr Blair and Ivanka Trump, daughter of former US President Donald Trump, had once been among the guests at the dinner at their London home.
Mr Justice Mostyn was told how Ms Jilina and Mr Abu-Zalaf got married in 2012.
A family judge had issued a decree Nisi in 2013 at Ms Jilina’s request, a decree signaling the end of a marriage.
But he was told the Nisi decree had never been made absolute, a move that legally ends a marriage.
Ms. Jilina says there was a reconciliation in 2014 and the marriage finally broke up in 2020.
She says the 2013 nisi decree is “now antiquated and stale” and should be repealed, and plans to file a new divorce petition.
Mr Abu-Zalaf told the judge “we never reconciled” and said they were only “technically married”. He wants the decree nisi of 2013 to be made absolute.
“The wife’s position is, on the surface, odd and it is very unlikely that the facts of this case will repeat themselves in the future,” Justice Mostyn said in a written ruling.
“One might ask: Why does it matter whether she is divorced under the Decree of November 15, 2013 or under a divorce order yet to be issued?
“The answer is that the marriage contract provides for increasing provisions for the wife according to the length of the marriage (measured in full years from the date of marriage to the date of separation).”
Mr Justice Mostyn added: “If the decree is repealed and this marriage is treated as if it had lasted eight years, then the level of provision, both in terms of free capital and trust capital and periodic payments from the spouse, will be greatly increased.”
He continued: “I reckon the arrangement would bring the wife an additional £1.7million of housing capital (held in trust during her lifetime while she remains single) on top of the £2million of this housing fund already provided in trust; a lump sum of £250,000; and additional spousal maintenance of around £13,500 a year, on top of existing alimony, which now stands at £123,000 a year with indexation.
“That is the reason for the wife’s application.
“It’s not about telling the world the real facts, as they now say they are. It’s not about correcting an erroneous finding about their status. It’s not about righting a public wrong.
“It’s about money, and only about money.”
Mr Justice Mostyn said that evidence “far from demonstrating” that the determinations of the state of marriage when the nisi decree was granted in 2013 were wrong.
“The evidence shows that the parties had a grossly defective marriage, rightly put out of its misery by the issuance of the Nisi Decree,” he said.
“For reasons that are not clear, the wife did not file an application for the nisi judgment, which had been passed in her favour, to be abolished 12 months after the verdict was announced, but before the “reconciliation”.
“This delay is very puzzling, in November 2014 she and her husband resumed a toxic, harmful and unhealthy relationship that had none of the qualities of marriage and cannot be described as marital reconciliation.
“This relationship lasted until March 2020 when it finally ended.
“However, I am perfectly satisfied that their marriage was and remained irretrievably broken after the decree nisi at all times.
“I conclude by pointing out that if there had been a genuine marital reconciliation between the parties on and after November 2014, the wife could have petitioned at any time thereafter … for the annulment of the nisi decree on the grounds that the parties were reconciled and both agreed to the annulment.
“The fact that the wife did not make such an application speaks volumes.
“For these reasons, the wife’s application is denied and the husband’s application is granted.”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/wife-loses-out-on-over-17m-as-judge-rules-in-favour-of-husband-on-when-marriage-ended-42073912.html The wife loses over 1.7 million euros because the judge decides in favor of the husband at the end of the marriage