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What Can Invalidate a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement being torn up after being invalidated

A separation agreement is a contract that determines rights and responsibilities for separating spouses. It is a legally-binding contract and both partners must adhere to the conditions within it.

However, a separation agreement may be invalidated if it can be proven that it was not created fairly. Typically, this occurs if one partner knowingly tricks or threatens the other in order to gain an unfair advantage.

Read on for further explanation of how and when a separation agreement can be invalidated:

1. There is Evidence of Coercion, Duress, Undue Influence or Threats

A separation agreement must be entered into freely, fairly and voluntarily. If it can be proven that there were physical, verbal or psychological threats during the negotiating and signing of the terms, the agreement may be thrown out by the Courts.

There are varying definitions of what constitutes “duress”. Certainly threatening physical violence if a partner doesn’t sign the agreement is just cause for that agreement to be invalidated. However, suggesting that a partner might face embarrassment or lose face isn’t likely to be considered undue influence.

Ultimately, it is up to the court to decide if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the terms of the agreement are the result of unlawful pressure.

2. There is Evidence of Fraud or Hidden Information

When one partner intentionally tricks the other or hides information in order to gain a more favourable deal, it can lead to an invalidation of the agreement. Proving that an ex has been hiding assets or misrepresenting their financial position for their benefit is enough to get an agreement nullified. Naturally, claiming that the opposite party is guilty of fraud requires firm evidence in order to result in any dismissal of the agreement.

3. There is a Mistake That Can Be Proven as a Mistake

Even though a separation agreement should be looked over carefully, there is still a chance that there is a simple mistake written into the contract. If the separating partners both agree that this is a mistake, it will be much easier to resolve than if one argues that it is not a mistake. In the second case, it will need to be established without a doubt that the information was not written as it was intended.

4. The Terms of the Agreement are Illegal

Obviously, a separation agreement cannot be adhered to if its conditions break the law. Whether this was slipped through the initial process by an unscrupulous or vindictive spouse, or if it is simply a detail that was overlooked, the agreement will be terminated.

Talk to a Family Lawyer

If you have concerns about the terms of your separation agreement and want to either have it invalidated or want to make sure it is binding, contact a family lawyer in Barrie, Newmarket or Richmond Hill to review the document on your behalf. Having a trained legal professional working on your side will ensure that you are protected against uncertainty and underhanded legal tactics.