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Pacelli v. Pacelli

Supreme Court of New Jersey
725 A.2d 56 (N.J. Super. App. 1999)


After 10 years of marriage, Antonio Pacelli (plaintiff) informed his wife, Francesca Pacelli (defendant), that he intended to divorce her unless she agreed to execute a mid-marriage property settlement agreement. The ultimatum was given by Antonio in an effort to protect the substantial wealth that he had earned through the development of real estate and the operation of a restaurant. Francesca was provided with the agreement to sign as is, and there was to be no negotiation. Francesca’s attorney advised Francesca not to sign the document. However, Francesca wanted to preserve the marriage and executed the agreement, which provided that Francesca would receive a lump sum of $500,000 upon dissolution of the marriage. At the time of her execution of the agreement, Antonio’s net worth was approximately $4,700,000. Subsequently, Antonio filed for divorce. At the time of the filing, Antonio’s net worth had grown to over $11,000,000. Francesca argued that the trial court should void the signed agreement, because the agreement was the result of coercion or duress and was thus unenforceable. The trial court disagreed, granted a judgment of divorce, and enforced the agreement. Francesca appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (D’Annunzio, J.)

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