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The Prenuptial Agreement Case of Petrakis v. Petrakis

Well, it seems that the New York State Appellate Division, 2nd Department disagrees, at least when it comes time to Love.

In Petrakis v. Petrakis, the Second Department recently upheld a judgment of the Supreme Court, Nassau County, setting aside a prenuptial agreement. The court agreed with the lower court’s finding that the husband fraudulently induced the wife to enter into a prenuptial agreement.

In this divorce action, the wife sought to set aside the prenuptial agreement, claiming her husband fraudulently induced her into signing the agreement. Prior to the engagement, the husband told the wife that she would have to convert to his religion, and that if they had any children in the future they would have to be raised according to his faith. The wife complied with his wishes, converted to his religion, and learned how to read, write, and speak Greek.

After six years in to their relationship, and about one month prior to their wedding, the husband presented the wife with a prenuptial agreement. The wife had the agreement reviewed by an attorney who advised her against signing the agreement. Despite this advice, the wife signed the agreement four days before the wedding after the husband told her that they would tear up the agreement once they had a family, and that if she did not sign the agreement, then he would call off the wedding.

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The court found that the husband was well aware of the substantial amount of money the wife’s father had already spent on the wedding when he threatened to call off the wedding if she did not sign the agreement. The court characterized the husband’s actions as challenging the wife to a “game of chicken,” and claimed it was fraudulent inducement.

This could potentially open up the floodgates for litigation over prenuptial agreements, even if reviewed by an attorney and signed against counsel’s advice.

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