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A Saudi Arabian billionaire has had to meet the “reasonable needs” of his former wife…to the tune of £75m! The largest divorce settlement in English legal history was awarded to former Pirelli model Christina Estrada, who was initially seeking £196m from Sheikh Walid Juffali. She will receive a lump sum cash payment of £53m to go alongside her already substantial assets of £22m.

The couple were happily married for 12 years and had a daughter together until the husband “took both a second wife and divorced me without my knowledge” according to Ms Estrada. In Saudi Arabia, Muslim men, such as Sheikh Juffali, are allowed to have more than one wife but Ms Estrada could not bring a case against him in this country. For this reason she applied for financial relief in England under the 1984 Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act.

How “reasonable needs” need to be met

In their own words the couple were extremely fortunate to live such a lavish lifestyle and this was the main reason for why Ms Estrada was seeking such a huge settlement.

She claimed that she required:

  • £1m a year for clothes, including 40,000 for fur coats and £21,000 for shoes,
  • £64.4m for two homes in London,
  • £495,000 for five cars – three in London and 2 in the USA,
  • £2.1m for travel costs,
  • £26,000 for her mobile phone bill.

Ms Estrada is well aware of how these figures look to the public but said, “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.”

Claims for Spousal Maintenance

So how does this compare to your ‘typical’ divorce? In some ways it doesn’t but for some divorcing couples it is possible to claim for spousal maintenance. It is not appropriate in some cases but the merit and quantum for each individual cases would need to be assessed by an expert.

It’s important to receive the right advice in order to have the information you need to pursue a fair and appropriate claim; be it by means of solicitor negotiations or if that proves unsuccessful in concluding matters then by means of a court application. In some cases it is also possible to claim interim spousal maintenance pending the final maintenance order being addressed in the final settlement order.

To speak to one of our Family and Matrimonial solicitors about spousal maintenance, divorce or any other issues raised here, call 0343 507 5151 or email your query to enquiries@gorvins.com.