German heiress wins landmark divorce case in Britain | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 21.10.2010
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German heiress wins landmark divorce case in Britain

The UK's highest court has ruled in favor of a German heiress in a divorce dispute likely to set a precedent and boost the popularity of pre-nuptial agreements in Great Britain.

Married couple with dollar note as background

Marriage - is it about money or love?

A German multi-millionaire heiress has won a landmark victory in a divorce dispute with her former husband, having their pre-nuptial agreement recognized as binding in the United Kingdom.

The British High Court judges said the pre-nup carried "decisive and compelling weight."

"Today's decision means a hugely important change in English law," Radmacher's lawyer Simon Bruce told reporters. "Pre-nups are now binding, so long as they're fair."

Pre-marital agreement had never previously been ruled as binding under British law.

Katrin Radmacher had married French banker Nicolas Granatino in 1998 after the couple signed an agreement in Germany not to make any financial claims in the event of a divorce. When the couple got separated, Granatino broke the pre-marital agreement and took his former wife to court.

Radmacher is the heiress to German paper industry company Macherey-Nagel and stands to inherit a multi-million-euro fortune.

Setting a precedent

Groom, bride and wedding ring

The verdict could make pre-nups more common in Britain

The court battle had been seen as a test case on whether the UK would follow most of the rest of Europe in recognizing pre-nups as binding.

The judges said that UK courts could overrule the agreements, if they were "unfair to any children of the marriage."

The case is likely to increase the popularity of pre-nuptial agreements in the UK.

"For Nicolas and I, in our homelands - France and Germany - these agreements are entirely normal and routine," Radmacher said in a statement after the verdict.

"I know some people think of pre-nuptial agreements as being unromantic, but for us it was meant to be a way of proving you are marrying only for love."

Author: Andreas Illmer (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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