As North Carolina Family Law Attorneys, one of the golden rules of practice is: If you reach an agreement, put it in writing. Unfortunately, this concept is all too often not ignored and can lead to arguments, financial loss, and even a loss of parenting time with a child.
Whenever we reach an agreement with another party on behalf of our Client, the next step is always to prepare a document that will enforce the agreement. Whether it is a Separation, Property Settlement and Alimony Agreement, or a Consent Order for Child Custody, agreements involving North Carolina family law matters should be confirmed by written agreement of the parties. Verbal agreements are often unenforceable in North Carolina, so even if your spouse promises to give you an asset, assume a debt, or even follow a certain parenting time schedule unless that verbal promise is put in writing and properly executed, it may not be a binding agreement.
Simply having a signed document of your agreement may not be enough though. North Carolina family laws require certain formalities for a domestic contract to be enforceable; for example, a North Carolina Separation Agreement must be signed before a duly authorized notary public. Putting an agreement in writing is the first step, but you must also ensure that all requirements of the North Carolina family laws are met to make that writing binding and enforceable.
One common area we see at Miller Bowles Cushing involves verbal changes to an agreement that has already been signed by the parties. Often agreements require that any changes to the terms be made in writing, with the same formalities required under the North Carolina family laws. If verbal amendments are not properly documented, the party seeking to enforce the verbal change may not have a way to prove the change should be enforceable. This headache is one that is all too common, but fortunately very easy to avoid.
If you need help drafting an agreement for a North Carolina family law matter, or would even just like someone to review one you have prepared yourself, please contact us today at (704) 810-1400 to schedule a consultation.