Are verbal agreeements legal and binding?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Are verbal agreeements legal and binding?

We owned a business. My ex asked me to sign the business away to him or he would close it and re-open in a new name, so I did. During our divorce I lost my home and my ex verbally promised to ensure more money to me once he built up the business again. He also verbally promised to either purchase me a home with no mortgage or give me $300 in cash to do what I needed. At one point, he started getting me a mortgage and then stopped. I have been waiting years for him to hold his side of the agreement to no avail. His business is very profitable. Ironically he is a home builder in the Hamptons.

My son just turned 21 and my other is 12. We have been renting for 4 years. We have moved twice and now the current landlord wants to sell the home we are in. During our marriage I worked in our business. He would not let me work there anymore and his current wife is doing the job now. Do I have any recourse?

Asked on January 1, 2017 under Family Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

An oral promise (that is the better term than "verbal") is NOT enforceable unless therewas consideration, or something of value, exchanged for it: all contacts, whether written or oral, require an exchange of consideration. You describe promises where you did not in return give or promise him anything in exchange for his promise: if there was the case--if you did not give him any consideration for the promises--then his promises were not enforceable oral contracts or agreements, but only "gratuitious" promises which may be freely reneged upon.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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