As concerns oral agreements, the statement that “a verbal [sic] contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” erroneously attributed to Samuel Goldwyn actually is pretty close to the mark.
Sometimes I am asked whether oral agreements (as contrasted to those that are written) are enforceable. This post will answer that question but will explain why, even when oral agreements are enforceable, they should be put in written form, anyway.
Oral Agreements Generally Enforceable
Generally, oral agreements are enforceable in California. There are, though, many exceptions. For example, agreements for the sale of land or any agreements to the extent that they will require performance after one year must be in writing (Civil Code Section 1624), as must premarital agreements (“prenups”) (Family Code Section 1611). Also, written agreements generally may be amended only in writing and not orally (Civil Code Section1698).