Ask a Lawyer – “I signed a domestic contract with my ex-spouse. Can I claim more support or more property than the domestic contract says I can?”

The short answer is – possibly. Domestic contracts are agreements that govern the parties’ rights and obligations under family law – such as the ability to claim support or apply for division of property. Domestic contracts include separation agreements, prenuptial agreements, marriage contracts, and so forth.

Generally, the courts say that domestic contracts cannot be disturbed lightly, because they promote stability and are seen as embodiment of the intention of the parties. However, domestic contracts will be disregarded in some circumstances. That is especially true if the party seeking to set the contract aside did not have independent legal advice. But even if both parties had lawyers when the domestic contract was made, it can still be set aside on the grounds of unconscionability – that is, when one party was somehow vulnerable, and the other party took advantage of that. For example, if one party misrepresented their true wealth during the contract negotiations, the other party essentially does not know what they are giving up when they agree to a certain support amount or property division scheme. Such circumstances can help to set the contract aside.

If you are dealing with a separation, a dispute over a domestic contract, or for any other legal issue, please contact us.

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