Court Finds Prenuptial Agreement Fraudulently Induced

In an uncommon ruling, the Supreme Court of the State of New York affirmed a lower court ruling to set aside a prenuptial agreement entered into between a Long Island couple. The ruling allowed the plaintiff to pursue divorce relief without the stipulated protections offered by the prenuptial agreement.

For many reasons, a prenuptial agreement is a good idea. Our firm provides guidance and experienced legal support drafting tight but fair prenuptial agreements for clients. Prenuptial agreements identify assets considered separate property and provide structure for future discussion if the marriage relationship breaks down. Such agreements address other points as well, including:

  • Identification of debt, alimony and tax liabilities
  • Protection and preservation of assets for children of a previous marriage
  • Agreed upon care for parents or other dependents
  • Protection of business assets

In the case of Petrakis v Petrakis, Peter Petrakis presented his bride-to-be with a prenuptial agreement six weeks prior to their wedding in 1998. The agreement stated Mr. Petrakis would retain all assets acquired during the marriage. Ms. Petrakis would be paid $25,000 for each year they were married.

Until four days before the wedding Ms. Petrakis refused to sign the prenuptial agreement. In the shadow of the altar, Mr. Petrakis reportedly stated he would tear up the agreement if the couple had children, after which the agreement was signed. When the couple had children, Mr. Petrakis reneged on his oral promise to destroy the document.

Now worth approximately $20 million, the Supreme Court ruled Mr. Petrakis fraudulently induced Ms. Petrakis to execute the agreement and ruled in her favor.

The quality of a prenuptial agreement is clear when it is challenged in court. If interested in creating a solid prenuptial agreement, talk to my firm for experienced legal help.

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