Is a verbal agreement binding regarding child custody? 21 Answers as of June 21, 2013

My ex-wife and I have a court ordered drop of location for our daughter. For the past three years, we have had a verbal agreement to change that location during the winter months and leave it the same in the summer months. She now wants to go back on that agreement.

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Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
It's not binding, but your having carried out the agreement over an extended period of time with good success makes it relevant evidence. Good Luck.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 12/24/2012
The Law Office of Erin Farley
The Law Office of Erin Farley | Erin Farley
Oral agreements are only as binding as the parties are trustworthy. Parents always have the right to override the court order by agreement; but unless that agreement is in writing, you can not enforce it.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/24/2012
Law Offices of Julie A. Ringquist | Julie A. Ringquist
The only court orders are ones that are filed with the court and signed by the Judge. The order stands as written. If you agree to change the orders, you should file a Stipulation and ask the Judge to sign, thereby making a new court order. Many parents agree to modify the court orders, but they should at least confirm it in writing between them, even if not signed by a Judge. If you end up back in court over this issue, the Judge will consider the evidence of a change in the agreement, but a temporary change, without even a writing to prove the agreement was made is unlikely to convince the Judge to change the current orders if both parents don't agree. Without it in writing, and with the two of you disagreeing what the agreement was and how long you both agreed it would go on, how is the Judge to know exactly what the terms of the verbal agreement were?
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/23/2012
Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
Your informal agreement will not supersede your current court order. You need a new court order to ensure you can enforce the terms of the parenting terms.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/23/2012
Law Office of Barton R. Resnicoff | Barton R. Resnicoff
I assume that the two of you have acted upon this informal agreement. It can be recognized as such, even though a Court can, if it is best for the child, modify it. The informal agreement is some proof as to what is best for the child.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/23/2012
    Law Office of Joan M. Canavan | Joan Canavan
    No, but it does establish what has transpired between the parents for thepast three years.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You lose, you are compelled by the Court order, and changes made voluntarily changed at will leaving the Court order as the fall back., especially if they are just verbal.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    Not really binding, per se. Only a court ordered one or agreement signed by court is.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    John Russo | John Russo
    The courts speak through their orders. What does the order state?
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 6/21/2013
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Generally, no because nothing involving children on a prospective basis is ever nonmodifiable if the best interests of the child justify a change. Your situation doesn't involve a question of whether the verbal agreement is binding; it involves a question of whether it is best for the child to continue honoring the agreement. Since you never got the original court order modified, if you want to compel compliance with the verbal agreement you need to return to the court and convince the judge to modify the previous order based on the fact that the verbal agreement has been followed for 3 years and that that should continue.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation | Elizabeth Jones
    I suggest that you work together to find a resolution to this or go to a mediator. Then put your agreement in writing.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    Your verbal agreement is only as good as the paper it is written on. You may use the past practice as evidence in a motion to change the custody order, but it does not sound like this rises to the level of a substantial change that would cause the judge to make a change.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    The Law office of Karla M Mansur
    The Law office of Karla M Mansur | Karla Mansur
    A verbal agreement is not binding. If you want to alter the agreement it must be done by modification of the previous court order.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Richard D. Zasada, LLC | Richard D. Zasada
    No. The issues need to be addressed in a parenting plan and time sharing agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    LAW OFFICE OF ANNE B. HOWARD | Anne B. Howard
    It's a verbal agreement not a court order. File a motion if you want the agreement to be enforceable.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    A court order is a court order. If you are asking if you can both agree to do something else, certainly you can and in fact most custody orders expressly give you that power. But, the orders of the court are what the judge will look at/read and enforce if there is no agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    The Legal Center | Richard Manwaring
    The verbal agreement is not enforceable. However, if the matter were to go back to court the judge would probably agree with you to change the drop off location provided there were not reasonable reasons for the exchange location to remain as ordered.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    Most visitation and custody agreements state that you can do what you want as long as you both agree, and when you don't both agree, then the terms of the written agreement control. If she no longer wishes to honor the verbal agreement, even though you've been operating under that for 3 years, then until you get the written order changed, you will need to go back to what the court ordered. If the written arrangement is truly burdensome, you can ask the court to modify it.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    James Family Law Firm, P.C. | Amber Yerkey James
    Verbal agreements modifying a custody order are not valid unless and until they are written down and become part of a new court order.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Zales Law Office
    Zales Law Office | Nicholas C Zales
    Your agreement cannot override the court order. However, if she seeks a change the court would certainly consider what you have actually been doing and perhaps modify its order accordingly.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 12/21/2012
    Downing Law Firm | George E Downing. Jr.
    Any mutual agreement outside the Order is, as a practical matter, only good until one of you disagree to continue. At that point, stick to the Order or file a Rule to change it.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 12/21/2012
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