Making Sure your Prenuptial Agreement is Valid in New York

Do you recall the headlines a few years ago? In 2014, the divorce of Long Island socialites Elizabeth Petrakis and her husband Peter Petrakis made news headlines because their prenuptial agreement signed more than a decade ago was thrown out by the appellate court.  In short, their prenuptial agreement stipulated that in the event of divorce, Mr. Petrakis would retain ownership of all marital assets.  The bride-to-be had refused to sign the agreement in the days before their wedding. Whatever was going on behind closed doors, it does not sound like it was a pleasant, amicable, newlywed sort of atmosphere in the Petrakis home.

Four days before the wedding. Mr. Petrakis allegedly made a promise that the agreement would be thrown out after the couple had at least one child together. Elizabeth said that she was amenable to that, because it seemed that his concern was that only in the event that they have children should his wife be able to receive the type of settlement that gave her access to a significant portion of his assets.

However, their verbal agreement and discussion immediately before the wedding held no legal standing in court, and the New York court said that basically it was null and void. Since prenuptial agreements and other civil cases are based on the laws in a particular state, here in New York City, we would be subject to the same kinds of laws and stipulations for prenuptial agreements as someone would if they were married in Long Island.

Understanding the ins and outs of what makes a document legal and binding is our job- and here at New York Prenup this is what we specialize in, to make sure that you get everything you need from your agreement.

There are many lessons to be learned from this particular case.  

There are five criteria that your New York City prenuptial agreement will need to meet in order for it to be valid in court (not be challenged by a Judge) in the future:

  1. The agreement must not be fraudulent.  This means that both parties must provide full financial disclosure while preparing their agreement.
  2. Neither party can be pressured or bribed into signing the agreement.
  3. The Agreement must be signed and executed properly in accordance with state laws.
  4. Both parties must be given the opportunity to review the agreement with their own attorney.
  5. The agreement must be fair to both parties and cannot be clearly unfair to one party.

The Petrakis’ circumstances were unique, since it is rare that such a dispute exists, but they do happen. When you go to court and both you and your spouse think you know exactly what to expect, and then the disagreement during your divorce is not between the two parties, but rather between the parties and the Judge, the situation can feel overwhelming, and out of your control. To ensure that your finances stay in your own hands when it comes to making decisions about your future, contact the experienced and helpful attorneys at New York Prenup today and let us help keep you out of this sort of situation. Our agreements are drawn up from start to finish, with very little time required of you, and returned within 48 hours.   We are looking forward to preparing your document for you.