Billionaire claims marriage was fake to avoid payments to ex-wife

Asif Aziz divorce

A billionaire property developer is claiming his ex-wife isn't entitled to a share of his wealth - because she was never really his wife in the first place.

Asif and Tagilde Aziz were divorced last year, but Mr Aziz is now attempting to get the decision overturned.

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He's claiming that they only pretended to have married in Malawi in 2002, obtaining a false marriage certificate so that the child they'd adopted could get a passport.

In fact, he claims, no ceremony ever took place, and the couple's 14-year marriage was nothing of the sort.

"The parties went on holiday to Malawi in September 2002. They were at that time planning to relocate to England. They needed a passport. Arrangements were made," QC Richard Harrison told the court.

But Deborah Bangay QC, for Mrs Aziz, said Mr Aziz was simply trying to evade his responsibilities.

"Mrs Aziz is entitled to - and does - rely on the presumption of marriage and the facts that the parties presented to the world for the totality of the period between 2002 and their separation," she said.

"It is for Mr Aziz credibly to explain... why he presented to the world for a period of two decades that he and Mrs Aziz were married."

According to the Daily Mail, Mr Aziz has a fortune of £1.1 billion. Through property group Criterion Capital, he owns large portions of the West End including 1 Leicester Square, 1 Piccadilly and the London Trocadero.

Mr Aziz is by no means the first person to try and get out of sharing his wealth on the grounds that their marriage was never valid.

American stand-up comedian Ron White, for example, is currently claiming that he and Margo Rey were never legally married, and only ever had a 'mock wedding ceremony'.

And this time last year, an Oxford academic claimed that his religious marriage in Syria was never legally registered, and that his wife shouldn't be entitled to a share of their £1 million house.

Most famously of all, back in 1999, Mick Jagger tried to claim that he'd never really been married to Jerry Hall. In the end, the couple agreed to have their marriage annulled.

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Celebs who have suffered financially after divorce
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Celebs who have suffered financially after divorce
In 2009, after a bitter divorce battle, Cleese was forced to give his third wife £8 million in cash and assets - including a £2 million Holland Park house and half a beach house in Santa Barbara. He must also pay significant alimony. He didn't run up debts during the process, but has sold a number of assets - including paintings and props, and has been on a world tour with his one man show: 'How to Finance your Divorce'.
He said in September last year that he was 'downsizing' his life, selling his ranch in Napa and returning to TV where the pay is steadier. According to Fox News he added: "Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it 'all the money', but they changed it to 'alimony'.
The Gossip Girl actress filed for bankruptcy this year. One major contributing factor was an enormous legal bill from her divorce and custody battle with her ex-husband. Her German husband had been deported, and the divorce lawyer ruled that the couple should spend equal time with the children. Because her husband could not enter the US, he ruled that they should live with their father and Rutherford should travel to visit them. She told E!News she had "spent every penny. Every penny from Gossip Girl, my pension, my stocks has been spent fighting for my children."
One of the oddest celebrity divorce settlements was in the late 1970s when Marvin Gaye was ordered to record a new album and pay the royalties to his ex-wife. The album is called Here My Dear and includes songs such as "You can leave, but it's going to cost you'. The cost of the divorce was one of a number of factors that drove him to bankruptcy in 1979.
The Sopranos actress (who played Dr Jennifer Melfi) filed for bankruptcy in 1999. She had spent five years fighting a custody battle with her ex, Harvey Keitel, and despite getting custody of her daughter, she told the New York Times she was left $2 million in debt to the lawyers in her bankruptcy and custody cases.
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