A nursing graduate is “delighted” after the Court of Appeal overturned a ruling on the length of her marriage to her estranged husband.
Angela Jilina and Walid Abu-Zalaf were previously embroiled in a High Court dispute over when their marriage dissolved.
Ms Jilina, who recently completed a master's degree in nursing, said the marriage broke down in 2020, while Mr Abu-Zalaf, editor of the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, said it broke up in 2013.
Lawyers told Justice Mostyn at a hearing last year that his decision would affect how much Ms Jilina walked away with under a prenuptial agreement – and said hundreds of thousands of pounds were at stake.
The judge ruled in favor of Mr Abu-Zalaf and said the evidence “did little to show” that the findings made about the marital status when the decree nisi was made in 2013 were wrong.
“The evidence shows that the parties had a highly flawed marriage which was rightly extinguished from its misery by the granting of the decree nisi,” Mr Justice Mostyn said.
However, Ms Jilina launched an attempt to challenge that decision at the Court of Appeal in May and on Friday, three judges heard her appeal.
Lady Justice King, sitting with Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, said: “Once there has been a conciliation finding and for so long … the correct result would be to hold that the conclusions reached in the granting of the decree nisi that it was unreasonable to expect the wife to live with the husband and that the marriage had irretrievably broken down were no longer valid in the light of their subsequent reconciliation.'
The judge said it was significant that Mr Abu-Zalaf “fully accepted” Ms Jilina's child after adopting him in 2015 – almost two years after their marriage allegedly broke down.
Lady Justice King continued: “Both to the world at large and to each other they referred to each other as husband and wife, participating in many high profile social functions in these roles.”
After the decision, Ms Jilina said: “I am delighted with today's decision of the Court of Appeal.
“This decision represents a complete reversal of the High Court's previous decision and confirms what I have maintained all along – that I was in a relationship with Mr Abu-Zalaf for almost 20 years and married since 2012. This was a marriage in every sense of the word.
“This lengthy process has caused me and my children considerable distress and resulted in significant reputational damage.
“This decision heals some of that damage and I am now focused on securing a fair settlement that reflects the true length of my marriage and my status as a wife and mother to our three beautiful children.”