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Former model wins historic divorce settlement of £75m to meet “reasonable needs”

A recent divorce case has made headlines, being deemed the ‘largest divorce settlement in English Court history’ after Mrs Justice Roberts awarded Christina Estrada a sum of £75m in High Court from former husband, Sheikh Walid Jaffali.

The background

Ms Estrada, a former model, had been married to Sheikh Jaffali for 12 years before he divorced her without her knowledge in Saudi Arabia in 2014. He also married again in 2012.

Estrada obtained leave under part three of the 1984 Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act to apply for financial relief in England, because she could not bring a case in Saudi Arabia.

Whilst married, Estrada had lived a lavish and luxurious lifestyle, so her demand for a sum of £238m to meet the following needs was “reasonable”, she thought. This included:

  • £1m a year for clothes,
  • £63m for housing
  • £495,000 for five cars dotted in various cities around the world
  • Continuation of generous support to both her parents
  • Cost of extensive staff

The former model explained,

“I have lived this life. This is what I am accustomed to. It is difficult to convey the extraordinary level of luxury and opulence we were fortunate enough to enjoy.”

The court heard that Jaffali, who was unable to attend the hearing as he was being treated in Switzerland for advanced lung cancer, was willing to offer Estrada £17m in cash and the use of a £6.5m home in London for five years, which is under their teenage daughters name.

Jaffali had attempted to claim diplomatic immunity to avoid the large financial settlement. However, the Court of Appeal decided that his permanent residence in the UK precluded him from availing himself of such protection from Estrada’s financial claims.

The result

Although Estrada was not awarded the sought sum of £238m, taking into account her assets of around £20m and the £53m in cash from Jaffali, she received an incredible £75m, making it the largest divorce settlement in English history.

This figure broken down means she will receive £2.5m per annum (she originally wanted £6m) and £18m for housing, despite her original claim for £63m.

Mrs Justice Roberts made it clear that, “a claim anchored to needs cannot ever justify unbridled spending, whatever the marital standard of living.”

In contrast – Mills v McCartney

This case can be likened to the infamous Paul McCartney and Heather Mills divorce where Mills had also sought a large sum of £125m but only received a fraction of this (£24.3m). The biggest difference between the cases is that of Mills’ overspending during the period after separation but before the settlement was agreed upon.

The judge ruled that her lifestyle had changed since separation resulting in her spending more than she did whilst living with McCartney and therefore her award was reduced by £500,000.

Estrada however, lived an incredibly opulent lifestyle whilst married, resulting in her larger settlement.

For more information or advice on this or any other Family Law issue, please get in touch with our team of specialist Family Lawyers on 0115 9 100 200 or send us a message.

Posted on July 15, 2016

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