Agreements Outside of Divorce Papers: What You Need to Know

August 7, 2023

Divorce is an emotional and legally complex process, often filled with negotiations and compromises. Amidst the emotional turmoil, it’s easy to overlook the importance of formalizing agreements in writing. However, the legal concept is known as the “four corners rule”. It underscores why your written divorce agreement is the cornerstone of protecting your rights and interests.

Understanding the Four Corners Rule

In legal terms, the “four corners” refer to the physical boundaries of a written document. If a contract appears complete and unambiguous on its face, the court will interpret its meaning solely based on the language within those four corners. This means that any verbal agreements outside of the written document are generally not considered valid or enforceable.

Why Verbal Agreements Aren’t Enough to Defeat the Four Corners Rule

Relying on verbal agreements during a divorce is risky. Memories fade, interpretations differ, and emotions can cloud judgment. Without a written contract, it becomes difficult to prove what was actually agreed upon. This leaves you vulnerable to misunderstandings and potential disputes down the line.

The Parol Evidence Rule: Protecting the Written Word

The four corners rule is closely linked to another legal principle called the parol evidence rule. This rule prevents parties from introducing evidence of prior or contemporaneous verbal agreements that contradict the terms of a written contract. In other words, if it’s not in the written agreement, it’s as if it never existed.

Practical Implications for Divorce


Let’s say you and your spouse verbally agree on the division of assets, spousal support, or parenting time arrangements. However, if these agreements are not explicitly included in your final divorce paperwork, they may hold little legal weight. The court will primarily look to the written agreement to determine the terms of your divorce. A court will disregard any verbal understandings you may have had.

The Role of a Divorce Attorney

This is where an experienced divorce attorney plays a crucial role. They can ensure that all your negotiated agreements are clearly and accurately documented in your divorce paperwork. This leaves no room for ambiguity or future disputes. Your attorney will guide you through the legal process, protect your interests, and ensure that your written agreement reflects your intentions and safeguards your future.

Don’t Leave Your Future to Chance

While you may trust your spouse’s word, it’s always best to protect yourself legally. A written divorce agreement provides clarity, security, and peace of mind. By having a comprehensive and enforceable contract, you can avoid potential conflicts, misunderstandings, and the need for costly litigation down the line.

Protecting Your Interests in the Metro East

If you’re contemplating or going through a divorce in the Metro East and would like to see if I can represent you in an uncontested divorce,, reach out. I help clients put their agreements into writing, protecting their futures. My firm can ensure that your written agreement accurately reflects your negotiated terms. Reach out to my office or give me a call to discuss how I can assist you in securing your future.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is essential to consult with an attorney to discuss your specific situation and legal options.