Breach of Contract

Breach of Contract

You might think of contract law and family law as two separate domains. It just so happens, however, that contract law often plays a critical role in family law.

Prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, and divorce settlement agreements all rely on contract law.

Proving and Defending Against a Breach of Contract Claim

In a breach of contract case, you must prove that:

  • There was a valid contract: You need to prove four elements: offer, acceptance, consideration (bargained-for exchange of value), and the intent to be legally bound.
  • The defendant breached the contract: You breach a contract by failing to comply with its demands–either by doing something you should not have done or by failing to do something you should have done. Delay in the performance of contractual obligations can constitute a breach.
  • You suffered harm: This typically involves monetary damages, but other remedies are possible in family law, such as injunctions.
  • The breach caused your harm: You must prove a direct causal link between the defendant’s breach and the harm you suffered.

The standard of proof for breaching a contract is much lower than the standard you must meet to prove a criminal charge.

The “Preponderance of the Evidence” Standard

The ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard is the standard of proof that typically applies in civil proceedings such as a divorce action or a lawsuit. The standard of proof tells you how much evidence you need to win your claim. It is a much easier standard to meet than the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard that applies to criminal charges.

The preponderance of the evidence standard requires you to submit enough evidence to convince the court that there is at least a 51% chance that you are right. You might refer to it as the “more likely than not” standard. If you assert a contract claim, you are the one who has to prove it, not the defendant. If the defendant asserts an affirmative defense, they must prove that defense.


Defending against a breach of contract claim might involve arguing:

  • No valid contract existed due to lack of at least one of the essential elements of a contract.
  • The contract was invalid due to duress (coercion), fraud, or misrepresentation of essential facts. One spouse might have concealed marital assets, for example.
  • The contract was impossible to perform, or unexpected events frustrated its purpose. For example, one spouse agrees to transfer title to a car, and the car is totaled.
  • You breached the contract before the defendant did, thereby releasing the defendant from obligations and justifying the defendant’s breach.
  • You failed to meet the statute of limitations for bringing a contract lawsuit (typically within six years of the breach), thereby barring your claim.

Georgia contract law allows many other defenses against a contract. 

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are contracts governing spousal property rights. The difference between a prenuptial agreement and a postnuptial agreement is that the former goes into effect before the marriage, while the latter goes into effect after the marriage. 

For example, the classic case of a prenuptial agreement involves a “rich” spouse who marries a “poor” spouse. In the prenuptial agreement, the “poor” spouse agrees that, in the event of property division incident to a divorce, they can take only a limited amount of property instead of a full “equitable distribution.”

Issues that might arise concerning such an agreement include duress, coercion, lack of financial disclosure, lack of independent legal counsel, or “unconscionable” (outrageous) terms. Courts analyze these factors to protect both spouses’ interests.

Divorce Settlements

A Georgia divorce settlement can resolve through court order or amicable settlement. Spouses typically prefer to resolve their differences by mutual agreement, and this results in a divorce settlement agreement that becomes a binding legal contract as soon as the court approves it. 

Divorce settlement agreements include issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. Courts can reject terms that violate public policy or the best interests of the child—certain child custody and child support arrangements, for example. As contracts, divorce settlements are enforceable in court. Nevertheless, issues of contractual interpretation or changing circumstances can (and often do) lead to disputes.


Following are some examples of how contract law issues might come into play in a family law context:

  • A spouse signs a divorce settlement agreement, but one spouse is hiding assets from the other.
  • One (soon-to-be) spouse pressures the other to sign a prenuptial agreement.
  • A prenuptial agreement that contains terms so unfair to one party that it shocks the conscience, raising an issue of unconscionability.
  • Two spouses sign a postnuptial agreement. One spouse prospers before their eventual divorce, and the original postnuptial agreement fails to address this newfound prosperity.
  • Two spouses sign a postnuptial agreement without the aid of a lawyer. The terms are so vague that neither party can agree on what they mean. 

Family courts litigate these and many other scenarios.

Talk to an Experienced Lawrenceville Family Lawyer

If you are involved in a contract dispute involving a family law issue, it’s probably not a good idea to try to represent yourself in court. It’s also not a good idea to work with an inexperienced lawyer or a lawyer who practices in another practice area (a criminal defense lawyer, for example). Instead, schedule a consultation with an experienced Lawrenceville family lawyer at Crystal Wright Law as soon as possible. You can call us at (404) 594-2143.