In Kansas, verbal agreements are generally enforceable, but that rule has some limitations and exceptions. Below, we explore the legal framework for verbal agreements in Kansas, the requirements for enforceability, which agreements must be in writing, and the circumstances in which oral contracts may be unenforceable.

Verbal agreements are a valid form of contract in Kansas. A contract is an agreement between two or more parties that creates legally enforceable obligations. While written contracts are typically best because they provide clear evidence of the parties’ intentions, oral agreements can be legally binding if they meet specific requirements.

What are the elements of a valid contract?

For a Kansas court to enforce a verbal agreement, it must contain the essential elements of a contract. These elements include an offer, acceptance, and consideration. An offer is a proposal by one party to enter into an agreement with another party. Acceptance is the other party’s agreement to the offeror’s terms. Consideration is the exchange of something of value between the parties, such as money, goods, or services.

In addition to these essential elements, other factors affect the enforceability of a verbal agreement in Kansas. For example, if the parties did not have a meeting of the minds — meaning they did not fully understand or agree to the agreement’s terms — the contract may not be enforceable. Similarly, a contract may be voidable if a party coerced or tricked the other party into entering it.

Who has legal capacity to contract?

In Kansas, any legally competent person can contract, meaning any person of legal age and sound mind is generally free to enter into a contract.

Regarding age, the legal age of adulthood in Kansas is 18 years. Kansans younger than 18 are generally considered minors, and their ability to contract is limited. Minors may enter contracts for necessities, such as food, shelter, and medical treatment, but cannot generally contract for non-necessary items like luxury goods or services. Also, a married person 16 or older is no longer considered a legal minor and can contract.

Additionally, contracts entered into by minors are generally voidable, meaning that the minor can disaffirm or cancel the contract at any time before reaching the age of majority or within a reasonable time after they do. But, if the minor lies about being an adult to enter into a contract, they generally cannot avoid it.

Regarding mental capacity, individuals who cannot understand the terms and consequences of a contract may lack the legal capacity to contract. Examples include individuals mentally incapacitated due to illness or disability, as well as individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time they enter the contract.

In some cases, individuals may also lack the capacity to contract due to their status or occupation. For example, public officials may be prohibited from entering certain types of contracts due to conflicts of interest or other ethical considerations. Similarly, individuals in positions of trust, such as trustees or guardians, may be limited in their ability to contract on behalf of others.

What are the implications under the statute of frauds and the Uniform Commercial Code?

Another consideration for verbal agreements in Kansas is the statute of frauds. This rule is a legal doctrine requiring certain types of contracts to be in writing in order to be enforceable. In Kansas, contracts that must be in writing include those involving the sale of real estate, contracts that a party cannot perform within one year, and agreements to pay another person’s debts.

Furthermore, under Kansas law, verbal agreements involving the sale of goods for $500 or more are generally unenforceable unless confirmed in writing. This requirement is based on the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which provides a framework for commercial transactions.

What are challenges in enforcing verbal agreements?

It’s also worth noting that even if a verbal agreement is technically enforceable, proving its terms and existence in court can be challenging. Without a written contract, the parties may have different recollections of the agreed terms or even if there was an agreement at all. Proving the validity of a verbal contract in court often comes down to one person’s word against the other’s, which typically requires a jury trial to sort out.

Contact an Experienced Kansas Business Attorney

If you want to enforce a verbal contract, or are deciding whether to enter one, it’s wise to consult a lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. David Business Law’s team of Kansas business attorneys can help you fully understand the legal implications of a verbal agreement. We can also help you draft a written agreement, review an existing contract, or provide guidance on how to enforce your rights. Call us today at (316) 252-2291 or (913) 354-2056 or contact us online for a free consultation.