If you have entered into a contract with someone else, you want to know that the agreement will be enforced in the event that there is a dispute. Thus, you will want to be as specific as possible in the agreement and always make sure that things are in writing.
The first factor in determining whether your contract will be enforced by the court is if there is consideration for the contract. Consideration means that each party is promising to take a concrete step in performance of the contract. Agreements are generally that one side performs services or sells goods in exchange for money. Paying money and performing a service are each forms of consideration. In other words, each side needs to be doing something for the other. If not, the contract will be called an illusory contract and is unenforceable by the courts.
In a similar regard, there cannot be an enforceable legal agreement for gratuitous services. If someone promises to do something for you for free, it is a gratuitous promise and not the grounds for a contract. This is similar to there being only consideration for one side of the contract. Both parties need to be doing something for each other.
In order for a contract to be enforceable, each party to a contract must have the capacity to enter into a contract. This means that minors cannot sign a contract because they are judged not to have the capacity. It also excludes people who lack the mental capacity to contract. Similarly, if one person is under duress or undue influence at the time that they made the agreement. If there is any fraud, it can also keep the court from enforcing the contract.
There are some other grounds that can keep a court from enforcing a contract. There can be an agreement that is so utterly one-sided that a court may refuse to hold the parties to its terms. Otherwise, it would be grossly unfair. This could include things like waivers that are included on the back of tickets that you buy. One form of an unfair contract that the court may decline to enforce would be a contract of adhesion.
You may have an oral agreement without a written contract that you are hoping will be enforced by the court. As long as you can prove that the contract existed, the court will enforce an oral contract between the parties, even if there is not a signed document. You just need to show evidence of an agreement through your conduct and that of the other party to the contract. Preferably, you should avoid being in that type of situation in the first place by always insisting on a written agreement. You never want to have the uncertainty that the court may not enforce your oral agreement because it has no proof that it ever existed. One way to ensure that this does not happen is to use documents from Net Lawman to memorialize and write down your contract.
When dealing with contracts, the best thing to do is to be as specific as possible and not to leave anything to chance. You never want to worry about whether the court will enforce the contract.