A verbal agreement, which can also be referred to as an oral contract, is an agreement made without a formal written contract. Simple verbal agreements can be the product of negotiation, like who will do dishes or who will take the dog on a walk each day. With verbal or oral agreements, no document is executed showing that one party will wash the dishes or walk the dog however, it is understood by both parties in spoken words.
In a divorce, creating written agreements can be time consuming. Terms or promises that were made in passing or over the phone may not be deemed necessary to add to an existing agreement or include in a new agreement. Or, if both parties are on good terms at the time of the verbal or oral agreements, they may simply agree to these terms and act accordingly.
Terms can range from insignificant items like who will receive the coffee pot or a certain wedding present. Other terms can have a more immediate and necessary impacts like financial obligations to the children and home, if joint custody is an option, mortgage payments, medical expenses for the kids, child support or alimony payments.
However, often times in divorce proceedings, things can turn hostile and oral or verbal agreements can change if a certain spouse isn’t happy with the current arrangement. Because certain terms were verbally agreed upon with little to no document to prove it, the verbal agreements are often not enough to change the terms of a divorce agreement.
Verbal agreements can be just as binding as a written agreement, however, both parties need to truthfully acknowledge they have accepted and agreed to the terms when the verbal agreement was made.
That is why it is imperative to create a written agreement at the beginning of separation or divorce and write out terms on all items. Terms that cover all assets between spouses, taking care of and all expenses pertaining to children and payments made between each party, whether its child support or alimony payments. Verify that the written agreements include all financial obligations for both parties. Enforcing an oral or verbal agreement can take more time to prove than an agreement that is written.
If an official agreement is not immediately possible, at least write down the basic terms of the agreement and get some form of acknowledgement about the terms of the contract from each party.
An email or text that sets forth the terms of the oral agreement and which advises that the party sending the email or text believes these are the terms of the agreement if the other person does not advise otherwise may prove to be sufficient evidence of an oral agreement.
If you have any questions about Verbal or Oral Agreements, call us today for a personal consultation.