is this an enforceable contract?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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is this an enforceable contract?

My husband and I bought a home; my son and his wife live in it. We bought the house and told them that whatever the mortgage payment is, is what their rent payment is. My daughter-in-law called and told me that if we did not sign a paper stating that any equity from the house when it is sold giving them the proceeds that she would leave my son. I am now forced to do this since son doesn’t want her to leave. My husband refuses to sign such a paper and therefore I will have to sign alone. I would like to know if this is an enforceable contract.

Asked on December 6, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It would be enforceable, since there would be agreement as to the terms and an exchange of "consideration"--things or promises which each side considers valuable (she agrees to not leave your son; you agree to give her the equity). Mutual agreement and consideration are the elements which make an enforceable contract.
DO NOT DO THIS. Consider the following situation: you sign the agreement; then she openly cheats on your son, or verbally/emotionally abuses him, or abandons him (while remaining married), etc.--that is, she does something awful, so that either he remains miserably married to him or he divorces her. If he divorces her, she would have still been in compliance with the agreement, so she still gets the equity. While you could try to tighten up the agreement or add language to protect against situtations like this, whatever you come up with, she could find a way to "cheat" or get around if her intentions are bad--or again, simply make him suffer. You can't fix their marriage this way--but you can lose a lot of money that you and your husband may need, or you may wish to give to your son.

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