On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
Having a prenuptial agreement shoved under your nose days before your wedding can be frightening. It also can raise issues many people don’t want to face: things like finances and the possibility of divorce.
Because of Florida’s policy of enforcing agreements, prenups can be difficult to void – but not impossible.
In Long Island, Elizabeth Petrakis felt forced by her future Husband to sign her prenup 4 days before her 1998 wedding to millionaire Peter Petrakis.
According to Elizabeth, her future Husband promised to rip up their agreement once they had children. But after having twin sons and a daughter, the prenup stayed intact.
A trial court in New York voided the prenup on the grounds of “fraud in the inducement” and recently an appellate court approved of that ruling – recognizing that the Husband misled the Wife in the contract, and finding his “credibility to be suspect.” As her attorney said:
“You can enter into prenups, but you shouldn’t when you’re marginalizing your spouse or being too greedy.” “The argument was helped by inequality of the prenuptial agreement.”
Another attorney further explained the court’s decision:
“Many couples discuss the terms of their prenups and say they will do or say things in the future that are not memorialized in writing,” she said. “However, this fraudulent inducement to buy a house put the marital home in joint name and make other financial incentives after the parties wed appeared to sway the appellate panel who agreed to set aside the prenuptial agreement based on fraud.”
Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable. Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.