NPR logo In Britain, Divorced Banker Fails To Gild Lily; Gets 1 Million Pounds

In Britain, Divorced Banker Fails To Gild Lily; Gets 1 Million Pounds

German heiress Katrin Radmacher listens as her lawyer Simon Bruce talks to the media after Britain's Supreme Court ruled in her favor in a divorce case that gives new validity to prenuptial agreements in England. Sang Tan/AP hide caption

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Sang Tan/AP

A banker who was seeking a divorce settlement of nearly 6 million pounds was told by Britain's Supreme Court that he would have to be content with the 1 million pounds he was guaranteed when he signed a prenuptial agreement with his wife, German heiress Katrin Radmacher.

The ruling has been hailed as a sign that English divorce rulings may soon stop resembling lottery drawings. Unless you are a real student of marital discord, you may not have realized that England has a reputation as "the divorce capital of Europe."

That's because England hasn't ever fully recognized prenuptial agreements as being binding.

In recent years, wealthy celebrities like Paul McCartney and Phil Collins have been forced to hand over hefty piles of money after getting divorced — more than $46 million in Collins' case. And in the past year, British lawyer Baroness Ruth Deech has often spoken out in favor of ending the traditional 50-50 split in divorces that involve large amounts of money.

Radmacher and Granatino, a former banker at JP Morgan, signed the prenuptial papers at her family's insistence. After marrying in 1998, they had two daughters.

As part of the settlement, Granatino will also be able to use a $4 million house until his younger daughter turns 22 — which would occur in 15 years.

A report from the AP describes the courtroom scene:

The heiress, deeply tanned and wearing a white knit coat over a matching mini-dress, appeared nervous before the ruling. She sat only a few feet from Granatino, unkempt in jeans and a sweater — but the two did not exchange pleasantries or even glance at each other.

After the case was decided, Rudmacher faced reporters on the steps of the courthouse. Here's some of what she had to say:

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.