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The Dangers of Verbal Agreements in Divorce Proceedings

Posted on in Divorce

verbal agreement, contract, Illinois family law attorneyAs you work through the divorce process, you and your soon-to-be ex spouse will undoubtedly attempt to discuss dozens of different topics related to your split. Some may be rather mundane, such as who gets to keep the coffeepot as a wedding present. Others, however, may have more of an immediate impact, such as who is responsible for making the mortgage payments or taking the kids to school. While it may seem easier for the two of you to rely on verbal agreements, consider an aphorism that is widely known throughout the medical field and employment law: "If it is not written down, it did not happen."

Oral Contracts

Strictly speaking, a verbal agreement can constitute an oral contract. An oral contract, in turn, may be enforceable under Illinois law. The challenge, however, lies in proving the existence of the oral contract. Your husband may have told you not to worry about the rent this month, but if you cannot prove he promised to pay it and your name is also on the lease, you are likely to be stuck with no avenue for relief.

Get it in Writing

Think about the court process of divorce. Most courts will review a divorce agreement to ensure that all appropriate concerns are addressed in writing so that both parties are very clear as to their respective obligations. If a consideration is missing, the court is likely to modify the agreement and add it so there is no confusion.

You and your spouse should take a similar approach during your separation and throughout the divorce process. Although it might seem pedantic to write down every little detail, the little details can become big details, which can lead to serious misunderstandings. Divide your financial obligations reasonably, and document your promises to each other. Even a handwritten note with both of your signatures will carry more weight before the court than claims of a verbal promise.

Temporary Orders

If and when it becomes necessary, you may also wish to petition the court for a temporary order during your divorce. Such orders can be used to protect property, provide for child custody or support, and to require spousal maintenance payments. While it may be easy to "forget" a verbal agreement, violation of a temporary court order can result in serious penalties.

If you are going through a divorce and are dealing with issues of broken verbal agreements, contact an experienced Lombard family law attorney. Our team of compassionate legal professionals understands the struggles you may be facing and is ready to help you move forward with the process. Call today to schedule a consultation and start taking steps toward a better future for you and your family.


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