Posts Tagged ‘contract’

Can I sue for back child support if we just had a verbal agreement?

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

I found this question in my email this week, and it is one that I get relatively often.

This is not just a question about child support.  It is also a question about whether or not you can enforce the terms of a verbal agreement.

Verbal agreements are valid.  You don’t necessarily need to have a written agreement to do anything, and we do it all the time.  Simple things like ‘I’ll meet you at noon for lunch’ is an agreement.  Or ‘I’ll pay for dinner if you get the tip’ is an agreement.  Most of the time these agreements work just fine and there are no problems.

But what if one party doesn’t do what was agreed?  What if I paid for dinner and you didn’t bring any money for the tip?  Or what if you brought money for the tip, but I didn’t bring enough money for dinner?

The problem is not whether the agreement was valid, the problem is whether or not you can enforce the terms of the agreement.

When you sue someone, you are asking the court to enforce the terms of your agreement.

The problem with verbal agreements is that there are often no other witnesses.  So if and when you go to court to ask the judge to enforce the agreement, the other person can just say that they didn’t make the verbal agreement.  Then it’s your word against theirs and the judge has a hard time finding sufficient evidence to enforce what you assert is an agreement.  Maybe the other person thought that they had only agreed to pay a tip up to one dollar?  Or maybe I agreed to pay for dinner, but only up to $10 and you ordered something much more expensive?  Or maybe I thought that the dinner was going to be that night and you cancelled and wanted to have the agreement reinstated for a dinner two months later?  And what if there was a witness to the agreement, but he is no longer available to testify, or maybe he forgot?  Maybe the other person thought it was a joke?  Or maybe the other person felt that they had to agree or something bad would happen to them?

Without something in writing, it is more difficult to prove the actual terms of the agreement.

Most people go to court to get a child support order.  An order of the court gives you extra power of enforcement because you can now bring a contempt charge if the person refuses to obey an order of the court.  The courts take these very seriously and a non-paying parent can be put in jail.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the amount that should be paid for child support is actually located in the Code of Virginia in Section 20-108.2 There are also online resources that can help you to calculate the correct amount of child support such as the Child Support Obligation Calculator on the Department of Social Services website.   The amount in the child support obligation calculator is the amount that the laws of Virginia say should be paid for the support of the child.  The laws of Virginia also allow the parents to agree to a different amount of support, so long as both parents agree that the different amount will be sufficient to pay for the child and that the custodial parent will not need to use government funds to supplement their household income.  The parents cannot agree to a lesser amount of support if the child is going to be eligible for TANF or WIC or any other government funds.  The parents may also agree to a higher amount of support if they wish.

If you are going to do this all on your own without the help of either the court or DCSE, then I suggest that you complete the form online and include a print-out of the calculation with a written agreement that is signed and dated by both parents.  However, I do not recommend doing it yourself.

My advice in these cases is for the parents to go to court to get the order.  It is not expensive, and you don’t necessarily need an attorney.  You can also go to the Department of Social Services, Division of Child Support Enforcement to file the paperwork and you may not need to go to court at all.

As long as both sides to an agreement do what they are supposed to do, there is never a problem.  But if one side does not perform as they agreed, it is much easier to enforce the agreement if there is a court order, or at least some writing as proof of the agreement.

In my experience, there is seldom a writing as a back-up to a verbal agreement to pay child support.  Also, a verbal agreement to pay child support is seldom enforced by the courts because there is just not sufficient evidence to prove that the agreement ever existed.  What usually happens is that the court will order support to be paid from the date of the petition for the court hearing until the child reaches the age of maturity, but there is seldom an award for ‘back’ child support because there really isn’t any provable ‘back’ support due.

Hampton Office !

Friday, May 20th, 2011

We have just opened a new satellite office to better serve our clients in the Hampton area.

Our Hampton office is in the Peninsula Town Center with an address of:

Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law

4410 Claiborne Sq, Suite 334

Hampton, VA 23666

You can use the same phone number of 757-234-4650 to access us at either office (don’t you just love technology!)

To learn more about Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law, check out our website at www.BeaversLaw.com

Read before you sign!

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

It seems that I get calls about legal problems in bulk.  Over the past few days I’ve had several calls from people who have signed a contract (or a lease) and then realized that it was not a good deal.

The problem is that once you have signed the contract, you are usually stuck.

You should take your time to review the contract before you sign.  Read ALL of the fine print.  And only then make the decision to sign.

Some of the language in the contract may be difficult for you to understand because it is in ‘legalese’.  This does not mean that it is bad, it may just be hard for you to understand easily.

Some of the time these contracts are about a business deal.  But sometimes these contracts can be about everyday life such as dance or music lessons.  The subject matter doesn’t really matter.  It is still a contract!

I can help.  I will review your contract and explain what it means in simple language.

Our August Special is a review of your contract for only $50 regardless of the length of the contract.

Why am I doing this service for such a low price?  Because I think it is important for you to know what you are signing before you are legally obligated to follow through.

When do I need a business lawyer?

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Obviously, you should contact an attorney if you have received notice that you are being sued. But it would probably be a better idea to have legal advice at the earliest possible stage of the game. An attorney can help get you out of a mess, but even more importantly, your attorney can help keep you from getting into that mess in the first place!

The old adage that you should never sign anything until your attorney has had a chance to review it is based on truth.

As a business attorney, I review contracts of all types and make recommendations that will hopefully take into account as many of the ‘what if’ scenarios as possible. Once I have the basics of the contract terms completed, I ask ‘what if ….?’ and then make sure to write down the answer.

For example, in a commercial lease, I will ask ‘what if there is a fire in the property next door and the property involved in this lease has smoke damage?’ Or in starting a new business partnership, I will ask ‘what if one of the partners is injured in an accident and is not able to come to work for 3 months? or 6 months? or ever again?’ Or perhaps, ‘what if your partner and his/her spouse get a divorce?’

Thinking about the ‘what ifs’ and drafting the document to handle those situations is why you should always have an attorney assist you in all of your business needs.

Most of us want to help you have a very successful business, and the best way we can do that is to keep you from ever needing an attorney to help you with a lawsuit!

Do you have a Small Business ?

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

A lot of people set up a small business as a sole proprietorship, and this is fine. Often, there is no real compelling need to set up a separate business entity (such as a Corporation or an LLC), and the IRS will allow you to use Schedule C to track your business income and expenses.

The problem is when people don’t keep their business finances separate from their personal finances.

Most people are aware that they need to keep receipts for their business expenses, but often they forget that you also need to keep accurate records of your business income. If you don’t have accurate records, and you use the same checking account for both your business and personal finances, it is possible that the IRS will allocate some of your personal income to your business. For example, if you are the ‘team mom’ for a sports team and all of the members send money to you so that you can send one check to the photographer, it is possible that the IRS might allocate those ‘picture’ checks as income to your company.

The easiest way to eliminate this potential problem is to have a separate bank account for your business and use that account for all of your business financial activity and ONLY for your business.

Also, as mentioned previously, keep very good accounting records for your business, including receipts where possible and notes to yourself when an actual receipt is not available. Use this method for both income and expenses.

You can also obtain a separate EIN for your business. This EIN is like the Social Security Number you have for your personal identification, but it is used only for the business. Using this separate EIN is also useful if you need to provide tax id information to others and you want to keep your personal SSN secure from possible identity theft.

The other way to help eliminate potential problems with the IRS is to always file your taxes on time and be sure to make all of your payments on time and in the correct amount.

You don’t necessarily need to have an Accountant or CPA to assist you in this process, but if that is what it takes to keep you on track, you might find that it is cheaper to pay the Accountant or CPA to help you get it right the first time instead of paying someone to help you with an audit later!

The bottom line is that if you are running a business, you need to treat it like a business.

If you have further questions about your small business, or if you need some help in getting started, please contact our office at 757-234-4650 to schedule a short meeting. We would like the opportunity to help you get started!