An oral agreement is not worth the paper its printed on

I know a lot of people who have never have to go to court.  In fact, some unmarried parents who are no longer together have never been to court to deal with the issues associated with their children.  For most of them, they never have to as they can communicate like adults and rely on oral agreements.  However, these oral agreements can really blow up in your face.  When it comes to major issues such as custody, child support and college expenses, paying a few hundred dollars to have an attorney make the agreement ironclad may be money well spent.

Consider the case of Tracy L who I represented a few years ago.  She had a five year old child with a man that she never married.  When they split, she took custody and they worked out oral agreements on everything.  Years passed and they never stepped foot in a courtroom.  However, a major dispute occurred and the father refused to return the child when his scheduled visitation ended.  My client called the police and when they asked for the court order that granted her custody, she had nothing to show them.  As a result, they couldn’t help her.  Both parties filed emergent motions and spent a lot of money on attorneys.  Sometimes possession really is nine-tenths of the law as the court didn’t see a problem with the father keeping the child for another week until the parties can show up to court with their attorneys.  At court, I knew that we had to get the child back that day or we would lose him forever.  Even though the judge initially said that she would give the child to the father, I was able to get the judge to change her mind and give the child back to my client.  We returned to court about a month later for the full custody hearing and, as expected, the judge stayed with her initial ruling. 

Of course, my client could have avoided a ton of stress and a ton of money if she had just hired an attorney to work out a consent order that was filed with the court.  While the father could have still made a push for custody, he would have faced an uphill battle.  In addition, the police would have likely enforced the order.  Call me anytime if you would like to have me draft a consent order for you.

Posted on July 22, 2010, in Articles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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