Estranged couple arguing over how long they were married wait for judge’s ruling

Angela Jilina and estranged journalist husband Walid Abu-Zalaf want a judge to make decisions related to when their marriage broke down.

07 October 2022

An estranged wealthy couple with links to former prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie are waiting for a High Court’s ruling after becoming embroiled in a tussle over how long they were married.

Angela Jilina, 49, and estranged journalist husband Walid Abu-Zalaf, 64, who had homes in London and Ascot, Berkshire, and Switzerland, have asked Mr Justice Mostyn to make decisions related to when their marriage broke down.

Mr Justice Mostyn on Friday finished considering arguments, at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, and is expected to deliver a ruling in the near future.

Lawyers told Mr Justice Mostyn that his ruling would affect how much Ms Jilina, who comes from Russia, walks away with – and indicated that hundreds of thousands of pounds were at stake.

The judge heard that Ms Jilina and Mr Abu-Zalaf had run up lawyers’ bills of more than £400,000 between them.

Ms Jilina told the judge how she had been involved with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and how she and Mr Abu-Zalaf had attended the wedding of the Blairs’ daughter Kathryn three years ago.

The judge also heard Mr Blair and Ivanka Trump, daughter of former US president Donald Trump, had once been among dinner guests at their London home.

Angela Jilina divorce case
Walid Abu-Zalaf, 64, the estranged journalist husband of Angela Jilina (James Manning/PA)

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, a decree which signals the end of a marriage, after an application by Ms Jilina.

But he was told the decree nisi had never been made absolute, a move which legally ends a marriage.

Ms Jilina says there was reconciliation in 2014 and the marriage finally broke down in 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She says the 2013 decree nisi is “now antiquated and stale”, should be rescinded, and wants to issue a fresh divorce petition.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 “we never reconciled” and said they were only “technically married”.

He wants the 2013 decree nisi to be made absolute.

Angela Jilina divorce case
Angela Jilina, 49, leaves the Royal Courts of Justice (James Manning/PA)

Mr Justice Mostyn had considered the case, after the decree nisi was granted, in 2013, and been given detail about planned financial provision for Ms Jilina.

He had explained then, in a written ruling, how he had been told then that Mr Abu-Zalaf had “net property assets” of about £13 million plus a share in a family business.

Mr Abu-Zalaf had agreed to make financial provision for Ms Jilina as part of a prenuptial agreement.

That provision depended on the length of the marriage.

The judge said for the “less than two years category” there was a “housing provision” of £2 million and said annual spousal payment was to be £96,000.

A barrister indicated, at the hearing, that Ms Jilina could benefit by an amount approaching £1 million if she won.

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