When Is a Prenup Unenforceable?

Pasadena divorce lawyers have been following the recent New York divorce case of Elizabeth and Peter Petrakis with great interest. Elizabeth Petrakis, wife of millionaire Peter Petrakis, was able to successfully get her prenup thrown out by the New York court. The prenup guaranteed her $25,000 for each year of marriage, even though Peter is said to be worth between $20 and $30 million. The agreement, signed in 1998, also stated that all assets acquired during the marriage would remain his in the event of the divorce.

Peter is said to have promised his wife he would tear up the prenup after they had children together. He did not keep the promise and she maintains she wouldn't have signed the agreement otherwise. Therefore, the court ruled she had a case for fraud and that the agreement was legally unenforceable.

Prenups, when properly prepared by a qualified attorney, generally hold up in a court of law. However, it's important to note that you can't coerce the lower earning party into signing the agreement. Presenting the prenup shortly before the wedding with the threat of calling off the ceremony if the lower earning spouse refuses to sign could be considered coercion. Making promises you don't intend to keep, such as Peter Petrakis's promise to tear up the agreement after he and his wife had a child together, is also forbidden.

Other possible reasons a prenup can be thrown out include failure to obtain separate legal representation for each spouse at the time the prenup is drawn up and signed, the inability of one spouse to understand the terms of the agreement, or the deliberate withholding of key information regarding income or assets.

How Can We Help?

If you have questions regarding the enforceability of your prenup, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com. Our experienced Pasadena matrimonial lawyers are eager to help you obtain a favorable settlement as quickly as possible.