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Is an oral contract binding in New York State between two people, domestic partners in business together?

Ossining, NY |

1. We are domestic partners.
2. I was asked by her "Do you want to start a business with me?" I said, "Yes."
3. I put money into the business and I worked for free for six months for the benefit of the business.
4. She is the owner of the business. I could not own the business at the time due to the nature of the business and me being a felon (class E, non-violent).
5. Even the name of the corporation is our initials.
6. The idea for the business, even the name of the business were my ideas. Every person who has dealt with the business has assumed so.
7. I eventually was hired as an "employee" then fired by her.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    You have a difficult argument to make. Contact a contract/business attorney. The only significance of your being a domestic partner is to fulfill the special relationship requirement in arguing unjust enrichment.

    If you found this "helpful" or "best answer," please click it with my appreciation. My response is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice nor creates an attorney client relationship which requires all the details and a personal conference.


  2. The Statute of Frauds requires a contract for more than $500 to be in writing. Yo may be able to argue that it is "unjust enrichment" if you went into the venture with "clean hands" which is in question since you tried to hide your conviction by putting it in her name.


  3. Check out this link to New York Partnership Law. It will give you an idea about how partnership is proven:
    http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/LAWSSEAF.cgi?QUERYTYPE=LAWS+&QUERYDATA=$$PTR11$$@TXPTR011+&LIST=LAW+&BROWSER=BROWSER+&TOKEN=40964429+&TARGET=VIEW

    The author of this posting is a lawyer licensed to practice law in the State of New York. He specializes in litigation matters relating to personal injury, construction accidents, auto accidents, slip and fall, dog bite, contract litigation, property litigation, civil rights, ERISA, and Social Security matters in federal, state and local courts, with a focus on courts in Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. This posting is intended as general information only, is not provided as legal advice in connection with any specific case, and should not be construed to create an attorney-client relationship. For more information about me, see http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/10314-ny-gaetano-parrinello-1897122.html?ref=header


  4. An oral contract is just as binding as a written contract, but this certainly doesn't end the matter. Legally the contract may be binding but an oral agreement with no witness and no voice recording can end up being problematic in terms of evidence. But again that is a question of evidence and not of law. Once of the attorneys who responded stated that you lack clean hands because you hid your ownership of the business. I'm not sure why that would indicate that you have unclean hands. There's not enough information here really to do a complete analysis. You say you worked for free. Did you agree to work for free or was this sweat equity that by agreement was supposed to translate into an equity share?

    This answer is merely an answer to a general legal question and does not constitute any attempt to set up an attorney/ client relationship. I do not advise you to act solely on the basis of this or any other answer to a general legal question because every legal situation is unique and must be studied uniquely.

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