Hesham Taha v. Abier Elzemity (App Div., 2nd Dep’t)

Plaintiff (hereafter “the husband”) and the defendant (hereafter “the wife”) were married in 2007. Prior to the marriage, the parties’ entered into a prenuptial agreement which provided that in the event of separation or divorce each party waived the right to the other’s separate property, including property acquired from the proceeds of separate property acquired during the marriage; each party would keep separate bank accounts; and the husband’s maintenance obligation would be limited to a lump sum payment of $20,000. The husband has been practicing medicine since 1987 and earns approximately $300,000 per year. The wife did not work outside the home during the marriage and dedicated herself to the care of the household and the parties’ children.

In 2013, the husband commenced a divorce action. The wife moved to set aside the prenuptial agreement on the grounds that it is unconscionable. The Supreme Court denied the wife’s motion that the prenuptial agreement is unconscionable and the wife appealed.

Despite the Supreme Court’s determination, the wife established that the prenuptial agreement was unconscionable. The defendant, who is unemployed, largely without assets, and the primary caregiver for the parties’ young children, would, under the prenuptial agreement, receive only $20,000, in full satisfaction of all claims, even though the plaintiff earns approximately $300,000 annually as a physician. Accordingly, the defendant’s motion to set aside the prenuptial agreement should have been granted.