Couple with links to Tony Blair engaged in High Court divorce fight
Estranged wealthy couple who attended wedding of Tony Blair’s daughter and hosted Ivanka Trump for dinner at their London home rack up legal bills of more than £400,000 in High Court divorce fight
- Angela Jilina, 49, and Walid Abu-Zalaf, 64, disagree when their marriage ended
- The length of marriage determines how much money Ms Jilina walks away with
- The hearing revolves around a 2013 decree nisi that was never made absolute
- Ms Jilina said they reconciled in 2014 and the marriage only broke down in 2020
An estranged wealthy couple with links to former Prime Minister Tony Blair have racked up legal bills of more than £400,000 in a High Court divorce fight.
Angela Jilina, 49, and estranged journalist husband Walid Abu-Zalaf, 64, who had homes in London and Ascot, Berkshire, and Switzerland, want a judge to make decisions related to when their marriage broke down.
The ruling, which revolves around a 2013 decree nisi – a decree which signals the end of a marriage- that was never made absolute, will affect how much money Ms Jilina walks away with.
At a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London today, Ms Jilina told the judge that she had been involved with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and that she and Mr Abu-Zalaf had 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 dinner guests at their London home.
Mr Justice Mostyn was told how Ms Jilina and Mr Abu-Zalaf, editor of Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, had married in 2012.
A family court judge had granted a decree nisi in 2013 after an application by Ms Jilina, but Mr Justice Mostyn was told that this had never been made absolute – a move which legally ends a marriage.
Angela Jilina, 49, (right) and estranged journalist husband Walid Abu-Zalaf, 64, (left) who had homes in London and Ascot, Berkshire, and Switzerland, want a judge to make decisions related to when their marriage broke down
Ms Jilina, who comes from Russia, said there was reconciliation in 2014 and the marriage finally broke down 2020.
She says the 2013 decree nisi is ‘now antiquated and stale’, should be rescinded, and wants to issue a fresh divorce petition.
Mr Abu-Zalaf told the judge they ‘never reconciled’ and said they were only ‘technically married’. He wants the 2013 decree nisi to be made absolute.
In the prenuptial agreement drawn up by Mr Abu-Zalaf, the financial provision for Ms Jiliana depended on the length of the marriage.
The judge said for the ‘less than two years category’ there was a ‘housing provision’ of £2million and an annual spousal payment of £96,000.
A lawyer indicated at today’s hearing that Ms Jilina could benefit by an amount approaching £1million if she won.
Ms Jilina says the 2013 decree nisi is ‘now antiquated and stale’, should be rescinded, and wants to issue a fresh divorce petition
The ruling, expected later in the year, will impact the amount of money Ms Jilina (pictured outside the Royal Courts of Justice today) walks away with
The estranged couple were asked about the nature of their relationship between 2014 and 2020, including questions about how often they had sex.
‘My husband called me his wife,’ Ms Jilina told the judge. ‘We had a sexual relationship. Everywhere we went socially as I known as his wife.’
Mr Abu-Zalaf said the relationship had been ‘convenient’.
He said they were ‘technically married’ but not married ‘in reality’.
‘We never reconciled,’ he said. ‘We were treating each other like single people.’
He told the judge: ‘It was convenient for me always to go out with someone.’
The hearing is due to end tomorrow. Mr Justice Mostyn is expected to deliver a ruling later in the year.
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