Under state law parents have a legal duty to among other things educate minor children until they graduate from high school or an approved equivalent. The state also provides for public schools which are mostly taxpayer funded (the final two years of my high school education would have cost my parents about $1,500 in unavoidable fees).

Both of my parents signed nine legal documents that spelled out every party's responsibilities ad nauseam. My high school agreed to pay for 50 credit hours at a local college and accept those credits as the complete fulfillment of my high school graduation requirements.

My guess is that the district received some manner of a discount. But were my parents to purchase this it would cost them about $47,000.

My father is trying to abrogate the deal he signed -- so far he hasn't met with success because the paperwork itself clearly states that all of the signatories (me, Mom, Dad, my counselor, and the principal) must agree to and countersign any modification to the agreement.

He states that since I am receiving the benefit, an education valued at about $47,000, and he "could have" satisfied the state's educational requirement in another way (sent me to a parochial school or laugh homeschooled me) the contract(s) he signed are invalid because the fact that he doesn't have to pay required text book fees, technology fees, lab fees, diploma and registration fees doesn't count as "consideration" so it isn't a binding contract.

PS: My father is so smart that he felt no need to have a lawyer review anything before he signed it.


1 Answer 1


Contracts are routinely held to be valid even when there is negligible or literally zero financial “gain” (compensation, which they take into consideration in order to enter into the contract). A document purporting to be a contract might be held invalid if it is a bare promise like “I promise to give you $100 on Friday”, but you can make it an enforceable contract by including “if you give me a french fry today”. Reasoning that party “could have” done something else does not invalidate a contract, for example the party might have had $3 at the time and could have purchased a whole bag of fries. The only imaginable relevance of “I could have” thinking would be if the terms of the contract are so unclear that the party would not reasonably have understood the contract to have obligated them to pay $100, or that they would have reasonably believed that they were to receive a suitcase full of french fries.

There is a (huge) difference between subjective errors in interpreting a contract and objective uncertainty. Objective uncertainty is fundamentally about the linguistic structure of the agreement, i.e. words like “it” which have no intrinsic referent, or “required books and clothing” (which could mean “required books and all clothing”, or “required books and required clothing”). There may be special rules of legal interpretation addressing how such ambiguities are resolved (this one is not well established, but is known in some spheres as the “across-the-board rule”). Personal interpretation does not enter into decisions as to the validity of a contract: if you misinterpret the words of a contract, regardless of how strong your proof is that at the time you did not understand the contract, that doesn’t matter, unless you can show that at the time you were actually not competent (did not know Armenian and could not have understood what the contract required). The courts look at the words of the contract, assume that the parties have availed themselves of wise legal counsel, and understand how the courts would interpret the contract, then they filter the words of the contract through a sieve composed of rules constituting "the law", and declare what parties A and B must do.

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