Florida Court Discusses Verbal Agreements in Divorce Cases

Divorce proceedings are sometimes acrimonious, with one of the most common points of contention being how assets and obligations should be shared. While court assistance is usually required to resolve such disputes, spouses are free to reach an arrangement on their own. In many cases, such agreements will emerge over the course of the litigation and will be brought to the court for approval before being written down. Oral agreements can be enforced, but only in particular circumstances, as a recent Florida ruling demonstrated. If you’re thinking of filing for divorce, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced Florida lawyer to see what steps you can take to safeguard your rights.

The Divorce Court Case

It is alleged that the husband and wife were going through a divorce. The wife filed a motion for interim relief. During the hearing on the matter, her counsel requested a brief recess, indicating that the parties had been discussing the potential of reaching an agreement on a global settlement. The parties returned about an hour later, indicating that they had achieved an agreement.

A handful of the agreement’s stipulations were allegedly read into the record while other matters were allegedly negotiated in front of the court. The court questioned each party separately to see if they agreed to the conditions of the settlement as described and if their assent was voluntary. The husband filed a move to throw aside the verbal settlement agreement, while the wife filed a request to enforce it. The husband appealed after the court granted the wife’s request but denied the husband’s.

Putting a Verbal Marital Settlement Agreement into Effect

In order for a verbal marital settlement agreement to be binding and legitimate in Florida, the trial judge who approves it must do a two-part analysis. First, the judge must interview each party to ascertain whether they have given their unequivocal and explicit approval to the conditions of the agreement. Second, the trial judge must ensure that each party was given the opportunity to discuss the agreement with his or her attorney and that each party fully comprehends the agreement’s contents.

While the trial court acquired affirmation from the parties that their approval to the agreement was plain and unequivocal, the appeal court did not conduct the second phase of the investigation. In other words, it did not state that each party conferred with or had the option to consult with his or her counsel. As a result, the court declared the oral marital settlement agreement unenforceable, overturning the trial court’s decision.

Meet with a Seasoned Miami Divorce Attorney

It’s a good idea for anybody participating in a divorce case to put their agreements in writing so that they can be enforced. If you want to end your marriage, you should consult with an attorney to discuss what measures you can take to protect your rights. The seasoned Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., are adept at helping people seek favorable outcomes in divorce matters, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. We have an office in Aventura, and we frequently represent people in divorce cases in Miami. You can reach us through our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.


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