For some, marriage is a business. It’s two shareholders coming together and merging assets. “Mine” gives way to “ours” and “me” gives way to “we.” But for others it is more than just a business; it is a union. It isn’t simply a merging of assets, but of two people’s lives. And from the moment you vow to go through life with the person you marry, it is a life that you are constantly building together. Unless of course, there’s fine print to suggest otherwise, perhaps in the form of a prenuptial agreement.
According to the attorney for the woman, Elizabeth Petrakis (who has now become the spokeswoman for thrown out prenups), Dennis D’Antonio, “three months before the couple’s 1998 wedding, Peter Petrakis presented his bride with a prenup stipulating that all assets acquired during their marriage would remain his in the event of a divorce.” Mrs. Petrakis was “guaranteed $25,000 for every year the couple was married” as well.
At the time Mrs. Petrakis refused to sign the prenup, and as a result, just days before the wedding, she was promised by her then-fiancé that he would tear up the prenup after they had children. As a result of never upholding his end of the agreement, Mr. Petrakis who is said to be worth over $20 million, committed fraud.
Given the fact that marriage involves two persons building a life together, one would wonder why someone would ask that of the person they had intended on spending their life with. Unless, perhaps, they had some doubts. The fact that Mr. Petrakis lied to his wife resulted in her ability to challenge the prenuptial agreement, and it worked.
And now the flood gates have opened. People everywhere want to know if the document they signed before signing their marriage certificates still means something. Will this agreement, seemingly more sacred than the union itself, still be upheld in the event that the idea of “forever” sounded much better than actually working towards forever?
According to “New York high profile matrimonial lawyer Steven Eisman,” there were multiple variables taken into consideration in the Court’s decision to throw out the prenup, involving the fact that Mrs. Petrakis was “induced” with promises. That being said, according to Attorney Eisman, “prenups aren’t dead.”
It is hard to imagine creating a life with someone and being expected to walk away with nothing when you’ve put in the time and the energy. I often wonder myself what goes through people’s minds as they sign such agreements. Do they sign it because they believe in their heart of hearts that things will work out? Do they believe that the person asking them to sign one believes the same after all they are asking that they sign one?
I don’t know what my thoughts would be in the event that I was worth over 20 million dollars but right now, at this moment, I am priceless and I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to have the person I intend to grow old with bargaining with me just days before our wedding. Or, knowing how much I wanted to be with him, had he said something like, “I want to be with you forever too but just in case we don’t make it sign here that way I can keep all my stuff.” It would almost feel like marriage meant I would be renting him and our life having ownership of nothing despite having given of myself and my heart.
So prenups are not dead and Mrs. Petrakis’s case will probably result in some prenuptial addendums or better tactics with regards to getting such agreements signed and done in such a manner to avoid this sort of thing from happening in the future.
But what I hope is that it will also cause people to give marriage some additional thought. To really ask themselves why they wish to enter into such a covenant? Because if your stuff means so much to you that you must hold on to all of it, then why get married in the first place? Why say that you are becoming one when you wish to be your own entity? Why go into a partnership when you feel you have so much to lose? Why not keep dating and keep your assets?
Sure, you worked hard to gain your status. If you get married and want to stay married you’ll have to do some more work. In love there are risks. For some of us we risk more by not loving, by not giving it our all, because when it is good and real and built on honesty it is priceless. It is worth the work. Why is there the need to put a price on love anyway? Of course, these are just my thoughts. And what do I know? My worth cannot be defined in dollar signs and yet my husband is well aware of my value. More importantly, I am. Together our net worth may pale in comparison to the millionaires drafting prenups with their attorneys, but it is our worth. We are two individuals who came together in order to build a life together. I look around and our life is made up of people, moments, and even some stuff, but it’s ours. No prenups. Just a marriage certificate and a promise – a promise we made to each other. A promise we are working to keep. For more on this story visit The Huffington Post.
What are your thoughts on prenuptial agreements?
Photo Credit: iStockphoto
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