Denver, CO asked in Civil Litigation for Colorado

Q: If I write “I can pay _ back in installments” for money I didn’t personally take is that a legal contract in Colorado?

My ex dropped plans to attend a wedding in another state and broke up with me. She paid our friend in advance for her share of an Airbnb. She backed out days before check-in, making it impossible for anyone else to feasibly take her place. When she asked about possible reimbursement I wrote in a text I could pay in installments, but realized shortly thereafter that I cannot afford this. My ex became disrespectful as the breakup progressed, and I initiated a no-contact boundary. When she repeatedly broke this, I informed her that I would be blocking her. She has since repeatedly attempted to petition me for payment and is threatening small claims court. I never accepted payment from her, and she has not attempted to contact the friend that she did give her money to. My initial offer was made under emotional duress as a peacemaking gesture, but her continued treatment of me coupled with my current financial situation has caused me to reconsider. Does “can” constitute a contract?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nelson Patrick Boyle
Nelson Patrick Boyle
  • Englewood, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: The answer would depend on the exact language of all communications and contracts involved. So only a general answer WITHOUT specific advice is possible here. Depending on how much is at stake, you might want to hire a lawyer. But lawyers are expensive. Often, it can be best to offer a small amount to settle a disagreement to help the parties go their separate ways rather than hiring a lawyer is a good idea when the amount is smaller than what it would cost to hire a lawyer. If you're confident in your position, small claims court could be a good option because the party filing in small claims court in Colorado cannot use a lawyer unless the responding party does. So if she sues you in small claims court, you would have the option of not using a lawyer and being on even footing and then presenting your side to the judge. There are obvious risks there, as well. The Colorado Bar Association has a list of low-pay, slow-pay attorneys who may be able and willing to help by reviewing all of the communications and contracts involved and advising you more specifically.

Please note that you are not my client and I am not your attorney. This advice is provided as a courtesy based on the limited facts you have provided and different/additional facts could and probably would change the general advice given.

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