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What constitutes a binding contract in California in regards to services?

Clovis, CA |

I babysat for my daughter and then, son in law and they paid me each month. They split up and even before they went to court, they verbally agreed that each would pay me half. When they went to court, the court ordered that each pay half of day care. My ex son in law paid me faithfully until 11 months ago when he just stopped. When asked, he said that he had discussed it with my daughter and was not going to pay it (he stopped paying child support at the same time). She is dealing with the child support in court, but I suspect the court will not get involved in back day care. Even though there is no written contract that he was agreed to pay half, does the court order and the 17 month that he did pay, constitute a binding contract that will allow me to go to small claims for this?

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Attorney answers 3


If the court ordered the payment of day care and the ex wife is back in court for the issue of back child support, the court can also address the issue of back day care at that time. Generally child care is a component of child support and therefore would be under the jurisdiction of family court.

Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.


This question really addresses 2 separate, but related issues: 1) Does he have to pay for day care? and 2) If so, does he have to pay it to you?. I agree with my colleague that the family court has resolved the first issue by ordering him to pay for half of day care. As for the second issue, there are several contract related theories that will allow you to recover at least the reasonable value of your services based on your prior course of dealings with your ex son-in-law. Verbal contracts are valid in California, just more difficult to prove. A consultation with a business attorney can assist you with assessing the viability and strategy of a possible small claims action.

This is general information and not meant as specific legal advice for any particular situation.


I agree with my colleague that the more efficient way of handling this is when your daughter is back in court re support, not in an independent action in small claims court.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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