I cannot tell you how often someone presents themselves to our office following a contract dispute that involves a family member or friend on the other side. So often when you need a service of some sort or another you turn to family or friends. This, of course, makes sense but when we do that we often let down our guard and do not cover ourselves by dotting all of the i’s and crossing the t’s, as we would if we were dealing at arm’s length. Very often no contract is written at all. In other words, beware of oral contracts with family and friends. We turn to a family member or friend because it’s quicker and easier and believe they would never take advantage of us. I am not saying to stop using family and friends but do so with your eyes wide open. It could be for construction or other service industry, but protection comes with a proper written agreement. A writing should protect both parties to a contract. It is not disrespectful to ask family and friends to put it in writing. In a construction scenario, not only are written agreements required under New Jersey law, they are essential to providing each side with a clear understanding of what is required by each side. The same is true in other areas. So often the use of a family member or friend turns into a nightmare with grudges held and friendships lost. It does not have to be this way. Going into these situations with a real contract/agreement hopefully will bring clarity, not misunderstandings and will prevent the unfortunate result of doing it the easy way.