Are Celeb Pre-Nups Done For?

In a recent New York divorce case, an appeals court upheld a judge`s decision to invalidate a prenuptial agreement between millionaire Peter Petrakis and his spouse, Elizabeth. Mrs. Petrakis made a claim that she was fraudulently induced into making the prenuptial agreement only days before their wedding. Mrs. Petrakis claimed her husband delivered an ultimatum, less than a week before the wedding was to take place, and that the situation placed her under unfair duress. The court upheld the decision, meaning that despite the signing of a prenup a binding legal contract that agreement was thrown out. This has led some to wonder: does the prenup have a future? What meaning does it carry in light of this case for celebrity divorces? What a Prenup Is A prenuptial agreement is akin to a business arrangement for marriages, designed to protect the financial assets of one or both parties in the marriage. It`s a legal contract that explicitly spells out how assets will be divided up in the event of divorce or death. The purpose, most often, is to avoid long court battles over those financial assets in the case of a divorce. While some people think that prenups are only for the rich, that`s not necessarily the case. Divorce attorneys often recommend that people looking to get married consider a prenuptial agreement if they have assets such as homes, inheritances, children from a previous marriage, a disparity in income or personal wealth, or the potential for wealth to be introduced in the future, such as a successful business or other source of sudden changes in wealth. When is a Prenup Valid? Prenuptial agreements are legal contracts, and as such, have a specific set of rules which much be followed in order to be considered valid. They must be written (never oral) contracts, executed by both parties under legal representation, preferably with a witness or judge to verify the signing. If the agreement was fraudulent in some way in other words, if one or both spouses failed to disclose all their assets, or misrepresented their value, then those assets might render the entire agreement invalid and get it thrown out of court. If the prenup is found to have been coerced, signed while under duress or pressure, it can be considered invalid. Being under the influence of drugs or mental illness can also invalidate a prenup, if it can be proven that the signer did not understand the meaning of the prenup at the time of signing. This can be very difficult to prove in court. If the paperwork for the prenup was improperly filed by the law firm, or was poorly written, it can be thrown out. This is true of many legal documents, but prenups in particular require care in how they are drafted. Not having appropriate (or any) legal representation can also be ground for a prenup to be invalidated. Are Prenups Done For? While the particulars of the Petrakis case make for sensational media attention, the prenuptial agreement is in no danger of going away. Marriage contracts are not a new or modern invention they have been around as long as the institution of marriage itself, which was historically a means of securing political alliances and dynasties, with fortunes and kingdoms at stake. The Petrakis case was an unusual set of circumstances, which, while likely to occur again in the future, are unlikely to create a legal precedent that will endanger the prenup. More likely, it will just make the intricacies of the prenup more complex which is all the more reason to have good legal representation when having one drafted. Do you think this will have an impact on celebrity divorce cases? Post by Matthew Carragher of

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