No coercion in prenuptial agreements

8th March 2015 by


When a prenuptial agreement is drawn up with the right independent legal guidance, it can be a useful tool for couples who wish to ensure their financial security should the worst happen.
As long as it has been negotiated with full disclosure and has been signed without coercion, a suitable amount of time before the nuptials, it is possible that a court will use it as a guide in the financial claim.

Family lawyers and divorce solicitors in the UK generally advocate prenuptial agreements as good financial sense, particularly when independent wealth for one or both of the parties prior to a marriage is substantial.

At present (March 2013) prenuptial agreements are not binding in England and Wales, but the landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino set a precedent that family courts will, in certain cases, uphold the contents of such marital property agreements.

Each financial remedy case, even with the presence of a prenuptial agreement, will be ruled upon on its own individual merit, and the court’s overriding priority will be to achieve fairness and to ensure that one party to a relationship is not unfairly disadvantaged by the termination of the marriage.

US landmark court ruling in fraudulently induced pre-nup

In February 2013, a New York appeal court upheld the first instance decision by a Long Island judge to disallow the prenuptial agreement between a wife and her millionaire husband on grounds that it was “fraudulently induced”.

Elizabeth Cioffi-Petrakis alleged that her husband, Peter Petrakis, had given her the marital property agreement to sign just four days before they were due to be married in 1998 and that he promised, at the time, that it would be destroyed once a child had been born to the couple – at which time he would add her name to the deed of their house.

However, these eventualities did not occur, despite Mrs Petrakis giving birth to twin sons and a daughter. When the marriage broke down irretrievably, Mr Petrakis sought enforcement of the pre-nup which would have severely disadvantaged Mrs Petrakis.

The Brooklyn Appellate Court’s decision to void the prenuptial agreement after finding Mr Petrakis’s “credibility to be fraudulent” was “unprecedented”, according to Mrs Petrakis’s family lawyer.

“It resets the bar,” he said, “It’s an entirely different landscape out there in regard to pre-nups. I’ve been inundated with calls. Spouses who are challenging pre-nups now have a leg to stand on.”

Healys family lawyers for legal advice on marital property agreements

If you would like to talk to an experienced family lawyer regarding marital property agreements &ndash, pre-nups, postnuptial agreements, and pre-civil partnership agreements – Healys solicitors in London and Brighton are here to help.

We can advise and represent clients in all areas of family and matrimonial law, and we act for petitioners and respondents in divorce. We can advise clients who wish to make a financial remedy claim on divorce and those who wish to defend a claim.

For more information, why not call our London or Brighton offices today to speak to a family lawyer? We look forward to helping you.