In a recent judgment, Mrs Justice Roberts awarded £53 million to former supermodel Christina Estrada, who was divorcing her billionaire husband, Saudi businessman Sheikh Walid Juffali after a 12- year marriage.
To date this is the largest ‘needs award’ made by an English Court. The Judge made it clear that this division of the finances was to meet Ms Estrada’s reasonable needs. Taking into account her own resources, Ms Estrada’s settlement is valued in the region of £75 million.
A lump sum payment of £53 million may seem incredible to most people. But to give some perspective, it is reported that Ms Estrada’s solicitors were of the view that her former husband is worth £8 billion, although Mr Juffali’s position was that his worth is in the region of £113.8 million.
The judge said Ms Estrada described their lifestyle as ‘magical’. The BBC described how she included within her statement of income needs a requirement in excess of £1 million a year for clothing. Her list includes:
- £40,000 a year for fur coats
- £109,000 a year for haute couture dresses
- £21,000 a year for shoes
Generic application of the judgement
Whilst Ms Estrada’s list may seem extreme and the circumstances of this case are far from standard, such a judgment can be applied to those of us with more moderate finances.
In most cases there will only be sufficient financial resources to consider the most basic needs, but this can result in it being justifiable for the Court to depart from a straightforward equal division.
In all cases the Court will be looking to divide finances to meet both of the parties’ requirements. Generally these are that they both need suitable accommodation and an income. The needs of children are always the first consideration of the Court. The needs of the parties are not looked at in isolation – the Court will take all the circumstances of the case into consideration including the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage.
In looking at each party’s need for accommodation, the Court will also take into account any children including their ages and where they are likely to spend the majority of their time. On occasion there will only be enough money for one parent to house with the children and in those circumstances the housing needs of the children will be considered over those of one of the parents.
It is sometimes appropriate for one of the parties to pay to the other a sum of money each month (known as spousal maintenance) to enable them to adjust to the change in their circumstances. The Court will look at this income need, the ability of the paying spouse to pay and, as far as is possible, will aim to make an Order that facilitates the parties achieving independence as soon as they can.
It is important for parties to be realistic about their needs and to take careful advice following separation to make sure they can move on with sufficient provision for their respective futures.
The Family Law Company has the expertise needed to make sure clients receive fair treatment. We offer a very reasonable fixed fee divorce service, which makes all of the costs, including the Court fee, clear upfront, helping to ensure that the divorce process is as stress free and swift as possible.
If you require further information or advice in respect of this or any other family matter, please contact us on 01392 421777.