The estranged wife of a US millionaire has persuaded a court to throw out the prenuptial agreement she signed prior her wedding in 1998.
Elizabeth Cioffi-Petrakis claimed her husband, a property developer on Long Island, coerced her into signing the agreement four days before the wedding. An appeal court in Brooklyn has now upheld an earlier ruling that that her husband Peter Petrakis had “fraudulently induced” her to sign the prenuptial agreement, and declaring his “credibility to be suspect”. The prenup meant her husband would keep all the marital assets in his name in the event of a split.
The pair will now commence divorce proceedings, the New York Post reports.
Cioffi-Petrakis described the prenup as an “a knife in my heart from day one”. She insisted that Peter Petrakis had threatened to cancel the wedding if she did not sign, despite the fact that her father had already paid $40,000 for the reception. She and pursued her claim through the courts for seven years, sometimes appearing as a litigant in person.
She told the Post: “He told me he would rip it up as soon as we had kids. But he never did. The reason this happened was I was an advocate for myself and I didn’t give up.’’
Her lawyer described the appeal court ruling as “unprecedented, vacating a pre-nup on the basis of a verbal promise.”
The lawyer added:
“It resets the bar. It’s an entirely different landscape out there in regard to prenups. I’ve been inundated with calls. Spouses who are challenging pre-nups now have a leg to stand on.”
Cioffi-Petrakis has now launched a business counselling people going through a divorce who have signed prenuptial agreements.
Photo by Morgan Harrison via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence