Is a verbal promise binding as a contract?

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Is a verbal promise binding as a contract?

My son and his wife owes $4,000 with the promise to pay it back. Out of the money $698 paid for her DWI and $268 for getting her licence back. They started paying and then something happen and now they are filing for a divorce. She states that since she did not sign any papers she owes nothing. She states that it was a gift. Is there any I can do?

Asked on August 14, 2011 Iowa

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Verbal contracts can be as binding as written contracts.   They are just a bit more difficult to prove.  The verbal contract must also not violate what is known as the statute of frauds, which is a law each state has on their books that states that certain agreements must be in writing to be valid and that they must be signed by "the party to be charged" in order to sue on them.  Contracts for the sale of real estate are, for example, those type of contracts that must be in writing. You are going to have o prove that this is a debt of the marriage and you may have to do something drastic, like sue them both. You can not just sue your soon to be ex daughter in law.  It would not come across well for you.  Good luck.


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