A Long Island woman, Elizabeth Petrakis, recently 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.
Petrakis contended that she was coerced into signing the agreement and that her millionaire husband never had any intentions to withdraw it—which amounted to fraud. On February 20, a Brooklyn Appellate Court panel unanimously agreed with Elizabeth, and threw out the agreement.
Petrakis’s attorney, Dennis D’Antonio stated, “It resets the bar. It’s an entirely different landscape out there in regard to pre-nups.” And he is right—this could change the way the courts view prenuptials in the future.
Do you need a prenuptial agreement?
Contrary to popular opinion, prenuptial agreements are not exclusively for the rich. A prenuptial may be appropriate for you if:
- You have assets such as a real estate, stock and bonds, or retirement funds
- You own all or part of a business
- You may receive a future inheritance
- You have children from a previous marriage
- One of you is has considerably more assets than the other
- One of you is supporting the other through college
- You have other depends, such as elderly parents or special needs children
- You are in a potentially lucrative profession
- You otherwise see a large increase in income in the future
A prenuptial should also be signed well in advance of the marriage. You shouldn’t present the agreement a few before the wedding to your future spouse, as was the case with Petrakis. By drafting and signing the agreement several weeks before the wedding, you avoid the appearance of coercion, or impropriety.
Talk to a Long Island divorce attorney about prenuptials
A prenuptial used for the right reasons can be good for both spouses and offers security and predictability. However, faulty agreements may be overturned by a court. If you need advice about whether a prenuptial is appropriate for your circumstances or have questions about an existing agreement you should contact a Long Island Divorce attorney to discuss your situation.