I would like to know what the standard terms of business are in contracts.
Many translators associations issued a standard contract. Have a look there. Many issues depend on different legal systems of different countries.
Are there specific issues which need extra attention, before signing a contract?
Too many for a forum reply.
Many single issues have been discussed even in this forum.
E.g. deadlines for submitting source text to you and returning, inquiries of additional work, quality issues (by unserious consumers being used to reduce the price), inquiries for improvement after delivery, immaterial damages resulting of bad trl., costs of money transfers, method of payment, what happens in case of illness, or if the text contains "bad surprises"
How does it work..., do translators (especially Free-Lancers) create sometimes their own contracts?
In my honest opinion a freelancer must be able to create his own contract, at least in order not to be cheated or misthreatened by consumers' contract and in order to know all necessary legal details (civil law) of the contracts one is signing.
What if there's only a verbal contract? What if one party breaks the contracts?
With some confiable clients a verbal contract maybe super. With some less confiable clients even the best written contract may become a horror. There is no patent solution.
Please, consider, in many countries an e mail without an approved electronic digital signature is not considered as a written document.
Regards and good luck,