A Long Island woman grabbed headlines last month after a Brooklyn appeals court ruled that the prenup she signed days before wedding her millionaire husband was invalid.
A judge ruled that Elizabeth Cioffi-Petrakis was “fraudulently induced” into signing the agreement by her then-fiance, Peter.
The prenup stipulated that all of Peter’s $20 million real estate assets would be kept in his name should the pair split, according to the New York Post. She would receive $25,000 for each year they were married.
Cioffi-Petrakis claimed Peter promised to throw out the agreement once they had kids. They have three now, but he allegedly didn’t keep his word after the couple split. Her name was also never added to the deed of his $3 million home, which was once featured in The New York Times.
It’s the rare kind of case that could give others hope of having their own prenups thrown out in court.
Cioffi-Petrakis has even started a counseling business called Divorce Prep Experts to help others getting ready for legal separation proceedings.
But in a interview with Business Insider, Jeffrey Cohen, a New York divorce attorney who has worked on many celebrity cases, offers a less than optimistic take.
“This case will be misread by many people eager to find footing to overturn prenuptial agreements,” Cohen said in an interview with Business Insider. “Where agreements are negotiated and fair on face, they will not be overturned by our courts.”
Cohen said before a typical prenuptial agreement is signed, it goes through rounds of drafts, negotiations and discussions between the lawyers for the two parties. The result is an agreement that’s usually the result of “a give and take on both sides.” And it’s almost impossible to overturn in court.
In the Cioffi-Petrakis case, the prenup was also thrown out on the grounds of a verbal promise, a rare event in these kind of proceedings.
“It was a credibility case,” Cohen said. “It appears as though he was greedy, appears as though he made promises that never intended to keep. Most of the time you don’t have that [with prenups].”
If prenups have been drafted and negotiated between lawyers, they will stand strong in court.
“I don’t think that you can really hang your hat on this decision,” Cohen said. “But I think this was a right decision based on how ‘smelly’ [the prenup] was.”
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