In New York, a prenuptial agreement is practically terms set in stone between married couples. The fact that a New York appeals court upheld a Long Island judge’s decision to void a prenuptial agreement over an oral promise is ground-breaking.
The case in point is between Elizabeth Cioffi-Petrakis, 39, and her Long Island millionaire husband worth up to $20 to $30 million, Peter Petrakis, 41.
Six weeks prior to the couple’s wedding date in 1998, Cioffi-Petrakis was presented with a prenuptial agreement with terms set that she would receive $25,000 for every year she was married to Petrakis and nothing else.
Cioffi-Petrakis refused to sign the prenuptial agreement, but she was given what appeared to be an ultimatum just four days before the big wedding day. She had to sign the prenup or the wedding that her father already paid $40,000 for was off.
To ease Cioffi-Petrakis into signing the prenuptial agreement, there was an oral agreement that Petrakis promised to destroy the document and would add Cioffi-Petrakis’ name to the house deed once the two had children.
Cioffi-Petrakis signed the prenuptial agreement with the oral promise in mind, but the oral agreement terms were never added to the document, nor did Petrakis keep his promise of destroying the document and adding her name to the house deed. The two have since had twin sons and a daughter together after their wedding date.
On Feb. 20, the case was won in Cioffi-Petrakis’ favor. The appellate court found the prenuptial agreement was “fraudulently induced.” The court believed Cioffi-Petrakis was tricked into signing the prenuptial agreement based on false promises. In the legal world, it is a landmark decision.
Cioffi-Petrakis spent several years arguing for the prenup to be torn up. She now plans to proceed with divorce as the prenuptial agreement has been cleared.