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Are they married or not?

A UK hedge fund executive is fighting to keep his £1.1bn wealth from his “wife” the High Court has heard.

Mr Aziz is asserting that his marriage to Ms Aziz is not recognised under English law and was based on a “certificate of convenience” which was required to get a UK passport for an informally adopted child.

The current proceedings which are being heard before Mr Justice Moor, centre on whether an event that took place in Malawi in 2002 constituted a valid wedding. Ms Aziz disputes his claim and is relying on the presumption of marriage and the fact that the parties have, since 2002 to their date of separation, presented to the world that they were married. An unchallenged decree nisi (the first divorce which means that the parties are still married but the court has the power to determine a financial application) has already been pronounced.

The outcome of this round of litigation while be a determining factor of what Ms Aziz may be entitled to. If the 2002 ceremony is found to be recognised under English law, the Court is going to look at this as a long marriage and, following the 2001 case of White v White, this could result in an equal division of the assets. The UK courts draw no distinction and give equal weight to the breadwinner and homemaker, although there can be other arguments about pre-acquired or inherited capital.

With assets of circa. £1.1bn, this would be one of the biggest divorces to be heard in the UK (although Mr Aziz is arguing that he is a man of straw and has no capital). The case had, until yesterday (4 October 2017) been heard in private. However cases that bring into question the validity of a marriage have to be heard in public. The case continues.

If you are contemplating a divorce and have concerns as to the validity of your marriage, please do not hesitate to contact Rayden Solicitors on 01727 734260.

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