If you have a verbal agreement with someone will it hold up in court?

When my ex and I broke up we had a
verbal agreement that I could keep our
washer and dryer as long as I made
payments on it and now he’s trying to
take them away can he do that?

Asked on September 26, 2016 under Business Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

An oral agreement ("oral" is the better term than "verbal") is generally legally enforceable--there are a few exceptions, where an agreement must be in writing to be enforceable, but this should not be one of them. So legally, he should have to honor the agreement. The problem is, if he sues you or otherwise takes legal action for the washer & dryer (the only legal way he can get them; if he just enters your home somehow--assuming you now live apart--and takes them, contact the police and report him for burglary) and lies in court, stating there was no such agreement, then the court will have to decide who is telling the truth. Unless you do have some evidence backing up the existence and terms of the agreement, it will basically come down to "he said, she said"--i.e. it's all about who is more credible or believable in court. That's the problem with oral agreements: while legally enforceable, they can be difficult to prove if the other side "remembers" them differently.

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