In March of this year, Elizabeth Petrakis won a major divorce battle when the Brooklyn Appellate Court tossed out the prenuptial agreement she signed with her husband based on a verbal promise. Four days before their wedding Elizabeth’s husband asked her to sign the agreement, promising that they would tear it up once they had children. But despite that promise, her husband kept the agreement in place.
A landmark decision that could affect you
While the Brooklyn Appellate Court’s decision was a victory for Petrakis, it may have put countless divorced spouses in a somewhat precarious situation. Because, what many may tout as a landmark decision, has encouraged some attorney’s (and their clients) to return to court to challenge prenuptial agreements currently being enforced. Attorneys for Christie Brinkley and Katie Holmes have already made moves in this direction. And while celebrities often live in a world where they get what they want consistently, it is not unreasonable to believe that non-celebrities will follow suit.
Checking the fine print
The major point cited in the Petrakis case was that she signed the prenuptial under duress and was ambushed shortly before the wedding. Extensive testimony showed that Ms. Petrakis’ husband had a pattern of acting in bad faith. Still, if you have a prenuptial in place that is being enforced post-divorce it would be wise to have your Long Island divorce attorney review the document against the Petrakis yardstick.
If you are considering having a prenuptial drawn up or are currently drafting an agreement consider the following questions:
- Does the agreement seem harsh or otherwise unfair?
- Is there any element in the document that could be construed as coercive?
- Have any actions or conversations relative to the agreement made your spouse feel under duress?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to revise your prenuptial to a more amicable agreement.
Discuss your prenuptial with a skilled divorce attorney
While no one can predict the future and the Petrakis case may prove to be the exception rather than the rule, it is a good idea to ensure you are on solid ground. If you need advice about properly drafting a prenuptial or have questions about an existing agreement contact a Long Island Divorce attorney to discuss your situation.