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Contracts don’t have to be scary.

Contracts.  Do you have much experience with formalized agreements?  I do and I can tell you that the shorter and more concise the better. Also, use plain English as much as possible, as opposed to legal language.  Make sure all of the facts are laid out and all contingencies are in place.  This means if someone fails to do something, what happens?  A lot of contracts are written to say that failure to perform is an issue, but they fail to include a remedy to the situation.  Thus, the two parties have to re-negotiate at that point for a resolution to the failure.  Don't waste your time with situations like this.  Agree to parameters and remedies in the initial contract so that any failures to perform can be dealt with quickly instead of tied up in further negotiations. It is also a good idea to put in a termination clause that allows either party to terminate the contract within a set number of days notice.  This protects both of you if your partnership is at any time not going well.  This provision can also be a disadvantage if you have an unscrupulous partner, but then if you do, you won't want to be doing business with them anyway!  And yes, I do recommend having a contract any time you are doing work for someone.  It needn't be a complicated document, but laying out the terms and conditions can save you many headaches and misunderstandings down the road. 

And no, you don't need an attorney to draw up the contracts; there are plenty of books in the library and templates on the Internet for almost any situation.  Start there and then include the items that are specific to your situation.  Really, it's easy, just try it.  Especially if you use a template, you don't have to worry that all the parts of a contracts are there, they will all be there and all you have to do is fill in the blanks.  Make sure you have the party names, the services or products offered and at what cost (this does not have to be monetary, it can be a trade or other arrangement). Both parties must sign the document to be valid.  Also, date it and provide the location of where the contract will be performed.  If it is not ongoing put the term of the contract.  If you want to renew it, that is fine, but give the parties an out if things aren't going well to re-negotiate the terms.  You can always put in an automatic renewal if things are going well. I would also include contact information for both parties too in case there is a problem later (it could be years later) and you need to contact them.  Keep all of your contracts in a safe place for easy reference.

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