Is it legal to break a contract?

The three Terms of a Contract


A clear offer outlining the terms of the contract, namely the responsibilities and expectations of each party involved.


Second party agrees to the terms put forward in the offer either in written form – which is always preferred – or verbally.


The actual performance of the contract terms: a bargain for exchange like money, a trade of goods or services, etc.

Many circumstances may permit you to extricate yourself from a contract

Is It Legal to Break My Contract?

Even if you signed a legally binding and official contract, there are specific laws and customs that help you when breaking a contract. You might be surprised how many different types of circumstances permit you to extricate yourself from a contract.

The initial step in extricating yourself from a contract is to re-examine the legal agreement. Take another look of your lease, membership agreement or loan paperwork, and examine the language. In some situations, conditions for cancelation might be included. You could also spot a loophole or escape clause that explains how to get out of a contract prematurely.

If you are in a situation where you are breaking a contract or considering to, I recommend that you consult a qualified lawyer like Aultman Law before you proceed.

Kennewick Lawyer discusses the risks of breaking a contract

four different ways to explore breaking a contract

Ways to potentially break a contract

The other Party Relinquishes First

If the other party gets out of the contract first or offers any indication that he or she is not interested in upholding their end of the deal, you are typically able to leave the contract. The legal term for this scenario is an anticipatory breach or anticipatory repudiation.

The Other Party Breaches the Contract

A material breach of contract happens when the other person involved takes action to void the contract. For example, if you contracted with an artist for a custom sculpture for your dining room, but she decides to sell the artwork to someone else, you have no legal obligation toward the contract, and you do not have to pay for the commissioned art.

The Agreement is Grossly Unfair

In the majority of cases, the legal system tends to look negatively at contracts that significantly favor one side. Typically in these cases, one side of the contract clearly possesses all the power and could leverage it to make money while negatively impacting the other side. An example of this is if your cable TV provider began charging a new fee halfway through your contract or routinely interrupted service for no explained reason. In this instance, you could have a legal right to escape the contract without paying cancelation fees.

The Contract is Fraudulent

Contracts are based on clear expectations, as well as definite terms and a transparent subject that explains all of the details. If you contract with a used car dealer to buy a vehicle that is in “excellent” or “like new” condition, but it falls apart right after you drive it off the lot because of conceal damage, the seller has probably perpetrated an act of fraud. This allows you to break the contract with no penalty since the seller being aware of the accident and damage that it caused before he sold it to you.

How A Contract Becomes Void

Contracts are based on clear expectations, definite terms, and transparency. If there are any misrepresentations or impossible terms, a court could determine the contract is void. A void contract is a contract this is deemed invalid and unable to be enforced at the state or federal level.

Other reasons a contract could be found to be void include:


    • Vague or impossible to perform terms
    • The contract involves criminal activity
    • A party was coerced into signing the contract
    • One of the parties lacked the capacity to sign;
      e.g., under the age of 18, lack mental capacity.


It is helpful to fully understand what a contract is comprised of and to also be knowledgeable about ways to potentially escape the terms of a contract for legitimate reasons. Being equipped with the facts, factors, and circumstances that warrant ending a contract can help prevent you from being taken advantage and treated unfairly.

As noted above, it is best to begin the process of contending the merits of a contract by first consulting with a qualified attorney.

Breaking a Contract lawyer is reviewing options with clients
Serving clients in Benton, Franklin, Yakima and surrounding counties
Get The Contract Help You Need in the Tri-Cities
business dispute lawyer aultman law

You’ve Come To The Right Place! When you have a legal problem such as breaking a contract, you need an attorney who will first listen to you and provide honest evaluations of your case. Your attorney should also give you confidence that your case is being worked up toward a successful resolution. This may seem like common sense, but many of my clients have expressed frustration with their former attorneys, often saying their attorneys stopped communicating after being hired. This left the clients wondering what was happening in their cases and questioning whether the attorney was actually doing anything to help. At Aultman

At Aultman Law, experience is the difference. Among the advantages you enjoy when you let me represent you are an excellent track record, unparalleled customer service, and transparent fees. My law firm’s practice areas are personal injury law, business law, construction law, and insurance law.

If you would like more information or want to schedule a free consultation, I invite you to call me today at 509.282.2456 or complete our Online Contact Form.