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  • Joel Votolato

Does my Contract Need to be in Writing?


Contracts are legally binding agreements between two or more parties that specify the terms and conditions of their agreement. While verbal agreements can be legally binding, certain contracts must be in writing to be enforceable in court. In this article, we will discuss when a contract must be in writing.


One of the most important considerations for determining whether a contract must be in writing is the statute of frauds. The statute of frauds is a law that requires certain types of contracts to be in writing to be enforceable. In the United States, the statute of frauds varies from state to state, but generally, contracts falling into the following categories must be in writing:

  1. Contracts for the sale of real property: Any agreement to buy or sell real estate must be in writing to be enforceable.

  2. Contracts that cannot be performed within one year: Any contract that cannot be performed within one year of the date of agreement must be in writing.

  3. Contracts for the sale of goods over a certain value: The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) requires contracts for the sale of goods over a certain value (usually $500 or more) to be in writing.

  4. Contracts involving the payment of debts: Any agreement to pay the debt of another person must be in writing to be enforceable.

  5. Contracts involving marriage: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements must be in writing to be enforceable.

  6. Contracts involving the transfer of ownership of copyrights, patents, or trademarks: Any agreement to transfer ownership of these intellectual property rights must be in writing to be enforceable.

It is important to note that while these types of contracts must be in writing, they must also meet certain requirements to be legally enforceable. The written contract must clearly state the terms and conditions of the agreement, and it must be signed by all parties involved.


In addition to the statute of frauds, other situations may require a contract to be in writing to be enforceable. For example, if the parties involved have a history of disagreements or misunderstandings, it may be wise to put their agreement in writing to avoid future disputes.


In conclusion, while many contracts can be verbal, certain types of contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. These include contracts for the sale of real property, contracts that cannot be performed within one year, contracts for the sale of goods over a certain value, contracts involving the payment of debts, contracts involving marriage, and contracts involving the transfer of ownership of intellectual property rights. If you are unsure whether your agreement requires a written contract, it is always best to consult with a legal professional.

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