New York judge makes rare ruling to dismiss prenuptial agreement

It's very rare, but it happened recently on Long Island: a judge's ruling overturned a prenuptial agreement. Usually, to have a prenuptial agreement dismissed, one of the parties has to prove that the agreement would cause undue harm or that coercion was somehow involved in the signing of the document.

In the Long Island case, the wife of the owner of a successful smoke shop chain sought to prove that her millionaire husband coerced her into signing a prenuptial agreement. He reportedly sprung the document on her four days prior to their nuptials.

A major factor in the judge's ruling was that the husband didn't keep promises that he made to the wife. In particular, the agreement stated that the husband would put the wife's name on the deed of their home. He didn't do that, though. He also apparently told her that the prenup would be disposed of after their first child was born. She has since had three children in the 12 years of their marriage, and the agreement was only recently thrown out.

It's important to note here that property and assets were involved in these promises, hence the judge's ruling that the prenuptial document involved "fraud by inducement."

The spouses are estranged but still married, and their divorce journey has taken years. The prenup dispute had to be settled first, and now they can move forward with their marital split.

Other New Yorkers with significant assets need to be aware of the full range of options available through a prenuptial agreement. Knowing what will or won't hold up in court could be the difference between the loss and the protection of assets.

Source: Shine, "Wife of Millionaire Wins 'Unprecedented' Case to Overturn Prenup Agreement," Beth Greenfield, March 11, 2013

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