Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pet Custody? What's The Standard?

Recent changes in the California version of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act now permit a judge making a restraining order, to make an order for "... the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner or the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either the petitioner or the respondent. The court may order the respondent to stay away from the animal and forbid the respondent from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, molesting, attacking, striking, threatening, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal."   There is no explanation provided as to what the court should and should not consider to be "good cause" for such an order, and how a court is to resolve conflicting claims to a particular animal..  

This rule is inconsistent with long-standing law in California and most other states that dogs, and other "domestic animals" are personal property, to be divided in a divorce, and  worth, according to California law,  their sale price .

We've negotiated  pet custodial arrangements in the past, understanding that, in some cases, the emotional value to a party of a pet may be vastly different than the pet's "market value".

California has not yet recognized any claim for money damages for being deprived of the custody of a dog.  A Vancouver judge recently rejected a similar claim in Canada, but it seems to have been only one of several pretty frivolous claims brought by the parties, and all summarily rejected by the judge.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spend More Time talking About The Relationship, and Less Money on the Ring, the Wedding (and the Divorce?)

An Emory University study suggests that there is an inverse correlation between the amount a couple spends on the engagement ring and the wedding, and the chance that the marriage will last.  I have my own theories about why this correlation may exist, but it does re-emphasize my "sermon" about pre-marital planning.  While sitting down and talking about what you intend in the marriage, financially, emotionally, and spiritually, isn't as romantic as picking a ring, or a wedding venue, it's a lot more critical to your long-term marital happiness.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Conscious Coupling" What Is Marriage Supposed To Do? Does It Still Do It?

One of the recurring themes of this blog has been "Why do people get married?  What will help then accomplish whatever it is they want to accomplish by marrying?"

It appears that the number of Americans, over-all, who believe that marriage does what they want done, continues to shrink, even as the broader recognition of same-sex marriage would seem logically to have increased it.  There are theories,  both social and economic, as to why this may be;  my job, as a counselor at law, is to make sure, as much as possible, that when people enter into a legal relationship, they understand what it is, what it does, and are clear, as their partners are clear, that their expectations and understandings match, or at least, fit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gambling Winnings and Child Support

    Ohio has now implemented an intercept program so that winners at the four casinos in Ohio may trigger data base checks.  If the winner wins $1,200 or more from slot machines, $5,000 or more from table games or $600 or more from high-stakes games, then their name is checked against a data base for child support owed.  If anything is owed, it is taken out of the winnings.  Ohio’s seven racinos, run by the Ohio Lottery, also participates in the program and checks winnings of $600 or more for child support. 
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/09/22/winners-to-pay-child-support.html

     Apparently, Ohio is not alone in this initiative.  Louisiana has a similar program to collect child support from gambling winnings.
http://www.klfy.com/story/26376451/state-collects-2-million-in-child-support-payments-from-gamblers


    Generally, states take child support seriously and if it is owed, it does not go away.  It is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy and will go against the owing parent’s estate.  This is true even if the child is an adult.   Child support services has a long reach in collecting the money.  They can do anything from garnish wages to intercept tax refunds to suspend licenses issued by the state.