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Heiress in battle to stop ex getting share of fortune

A German heiress will go to court today to try to stop her former husband from making claims on her £100m fortune in a landmark case which will decide the status of pre-nuptial agreements.

The highest court in the country will rule on whether it is fair to allow Katrin Radmacher (39) to hold Nicolas Granatino (37) to the strict terms of a contract which restricts his size of the divorce spoils.

At the time of their marriage in 1998, Mr Granatino was working for JP Morgan and earning as much as £325,000 a year. But when the couple separated in 2006 Mr Granatino had left to work as research scientist at Oxford University. Ms Radmacher accused her husband of deliberately delaying his doctorate to “maximise his claim”.

The couple married in London after signing a pre-nuptial contract in Germany and have two daughters.

At the first hearing in the High Court, Mrs Justice Baron heard that Mr Granatino had “virtually no assets” while his ex-wife's interests in the paper industry gave her £54m in liquid assets and £52m in capital assets, providing her with an annual income of £2m.

The judge recognised that the pre-nuptial agreement would have been fully enforceable in Germany or France, but said that they have never been legally binding in the UK.

She said the arrival of the couple's children had “so changed the landscape” that the contract should be set aside, and she awarded Mr Granatino £5,560,000. Mrs Justice Baron also noted that the husband had not received independent legal advice before signing the contract and his wife had not disclosed the full extent of her assets at the time.

But the Court of Appeal reinstated the terms of the pre-nuptial agreement — that in the event of divorce neither party would make a claim on the other's money — reducing his share of the divorce to just £1m. Family law experts hope the judges of the Supreme Court will now clarify the law.

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