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Habibi-Fahnrich v. Fahnrich

Habibi-Fahnrich v. Fahnrich, No. 46186/93; 1995 WL 507388 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995) Court: Supreme Court of New York, Kings County

The court, in favor of the Husband, found invalid a sadaq that did not satisfy the requirements of the Statute of Frauds.

Husband and Wife were married in a civil ceremony in New York.  After, they were married in a religious ceremony in Washington D.C. at which time the Husband and Wife signed a “sadaq” (document providing financial compensation to the wife in the event of a divorce). The marriage certificate included a line for the sadaq: “The SADAQ being: a ring advanced and half of husband's possessions postponed.”

Less than one year later, the Wife brought a claim requesting divorce and the enforcement of the sadaq. The Husband argued that the sadaq did not meet the three requirements for enforcement under New York contracts law and the Statute of Frauds:

  1. Materiality:  The agreement must be written and the written instrument must contain all the material terms
  2. Specificity:  The material terms must be specific so that anyone reading it can understand the terms of the contract
  3. Insufficiency:  The writing must not be plainly insufficient on its face

In this case, the sadaq did not meet any of the three requirements. The material terms such as “one half” and “interest” were left undefined. The sadaq also does not specify the details of “possession” and “postponed.” The one line is insufficient to show who is agreeing to what in the contract. The sadaq fails on all three counts, and the court refused to enforce a sadaq that was not a valid contract under New York contracts law.

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