The Huffington Post is reporting that a Brooklyn appellate court has rejected a prenuptial agreement
between a millionaire and his estranged wife. Prenuptial agreements have become increasingly common in recent years, especially based on a 2011 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, which found that prenuptial agreements have increased in frequency by 73 percent over a five-year period. What is not so common, however, is a case in which a prenuptial agreement is overturned by a court or otherwise found to be invalid.
In this particular case, Elizabeth Petrakis refused to sign a prenuptial agreement guaranteeing her
$25,000 for every year of marriage that her millionaire husband presented to her three months before their 1998 wedding. Ms. Petrakis finally signed the agreement a mere four days prior to the wedding, but only after her husband agreed to tear up the agreement after the couple had children together.
Petrakis reportedly never made good on this promise, which the court relied on as evidence that fraud
had occurred, finding that Ms. Petrakis never would have signed the agreement in the first place had her husband not promised her to later dispose of the agreement. Ms. Petrakis’ lawyer estimates that Peter Petrakis is currently worth between $20 and $30 million.
Aside from fraud, other reasons that a court might rule a prenuptial agreement to be invalid is if one person has hidden assets from his or her spouse, if there was coercion involved in the signing of the prenuptial agreement, or if the agreement was entered into very close in time to the wedding date.
Whether this case will significantly affect the law governing prenuptial agreements, especially in other states remains to be seen. Therefore, anyone who is contemplating entering into a prenuptial agreement or considering divorce after signing a prenuptial agreement, however, should always seek legal advice from a qualified Illinois prenuptial agreement lawyer prior to taking any action.
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