Contracts can be created under a variety of circumstances and under endless possibilities of terms. It is important to know when an agreement creates a contract so that you can best understand your rights and obligations. Whether it's verbal or written, for services or goods, the contract basics remain the same. The formation of any contract requires an offer, acceptance and consideration.
Contractual agreements often last for years. During that time, circumstances often change and so do the needs and priorities of the participants. Some underlying contracts require than any amendments or changes are required to be made in writing. Yet people frequently make handshake agreements to change important contractual terms. If the agreement was important enough to put in writing in the first place (and most agreements are), then why do people think changes to the agreement can be made on a handshake... or based on a text message?
Every day people sign contracts they don't read: Cable agreements; cell phone agreements; new product purchasing agreements. Even attorneys sign contracts they don't read -- although hopefully they read contracts before their clients sign them. There are a few reasons for this. First, they're long and complicated. Even if we read them they would be hard to understand. And second, we generally assume that they won't be enforced against us or that we don't need them anyway. But this isn't necessarily true. Often times that contract that we had to sign to watch Game of Thrones, will control the terms of a dispute we have when our cable goes out, we miss the finale, and a radio announcer ruins the surprise ending for us.
It is true that California's Family Code does not govern non-marital relationships and distributions of property... but California's Civil Code does.
For reasons unknown, I have had a number of "Bad Relationship" cases. The first one involved a jilted groom angry with his ex-fiance who swiped more than her share of their joint bank account. Later, I defended a lady whose former long term boyfriend wanted to be reimbursed for building her a dog house, among other things. I couldn't make this up if I tried.
It is a too-little known fact that the law imposes certain rights and obligations upon individuals who do business together. I recently contributed to an article published in the San Diego Professional Journal that identifies some of the most important, commonly ignored, laws that apply to those who engage in business together.