People sign contracts on a daily basis for purchases, partnerships, and more. Disputes over contracts are often complicated and stressful, but they can be even more volatile when they are about daily issues.
Today, we’ll explain more about contracts in family law cases.
What is a Family Law Contract?
There are different types of family law contracts, but one of the most known is the prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements can be signed prior to marriage to identify the division of assets and liabilities in the future. Prenups are legally binding agreements that both parties agree to.
There are also parenting agreements and property settlements. The property settlements deal with the division of marital property, much like a prenup. Parenting agreements are about child custody and child support.
While there are different types of family law contracts, the important part is to understand the terms of a specific contract before entering into it.
Courts only enforce valid contracts, otherwise known as “binding contracts.” Here are the qualifications of a valid family law contract:
- Both parties accept a set of terms.
- There is a mutual understanding of what the specific terms mean when the contract is formed.
- Both parties must be physically and mentally capable to enter the contract.
- The goal and terms of the contract must be legal.
Family law also requires that contracts are willingly signed by the parties. One party cannot pressure or force the other to sign the contract.
Family Law Contract Enforcement
There are different ways a family law contract can be enforced.
For example, if you have a divorce order that includes a family law contract, then the contract is a binding court order. If one party breaches the incorporated agreement, they may be found in contempt of the court. The motion for contempt is ten filed in the existing divorce case. Incorporating the agreement ensures its enforcement, but it can also lead to the courts altering the terms of the contract.
Contracts that are not incorporated into the divorce order (i.e. prenups) are treated like non-family law contracts. If one party breaches the contract, the other party can sue for breach of contract. The breach of contract is treated as a new case, separate from a divorce. Typically, you have up to three years after the breach to sue.
Working with a professional is the best way to draft a new family law contract or to pursue an existing contract. A family law attorney can best help you assess your personal situation.