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Walter
Walter, Legal Consultant
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Family Law Consultant Specializing In Interpretation Of Family and General Law.
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My ex-husband wont let me see my dog that we ...

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My ex-husband won''t let me see my dog that we share custody of. Can I legally take the dog if it is in front of his house on the street (on public property)?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Walter replied 6 years ago.

Hello,

Was there a legal order of shared custody in the courts?

If so what was the order?

When was the order put in place?

Walter

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
We have an irreconcilable differences divorce so there was no property to separate. We knew that our dog was considered community property so we made out own custody plan (we divorced 11 years ago) that each owner would get the dog for a certain amount of time - at first 1 week on 1 week off, then we worked up to 3 months on 3 months off. It has worked fine though my ex and his girlfirend have always come up with reasons they should have the dog longer, etc... In June I called because it was out turn to have our dog with us and I didn't get a call back for weeks. I finally called my ex's office and he said "remember when you said (11 years ago) that whoever lived in tahoe should keep the dog? Well, we live in tahoe and you live in Reno. So we are keeping him." I knew if I didn't concede to this statement that I would never see my dog again so I agreed that he should stay in Tahoe for most of the time but we needed to be able to see him at least every few months for a week or so. My ex said that was fine. So when I talked to him in December he agreed to meet me with the dog. I called him on the day of the meeting and he wouldn't answer and still now 4 weeks later he won't return m y calls. I have called at least 6 or so times with him screening my calls and not answering. I feel like he has given me his word that he would meet me and share our dog a few times a year with me and my family. Isn't this the same as me saying years ago that whoever stayed in Tahoe kept the dog?
I don't feel I need to honor that statement any more. I want to go to their house (the dog lays out in the street usually during the day) and just pick him up. I don't want to break the law but I feel that they are keeping him illegally.
Expert:  Walter replied 6 years ago.

Hello,

Here is the problem, since you had a agreement years ago the judge will likely enforce it. While there is nothing stopping you from picking up the dog. He will likely report the theft and you could be charged with theft of the dog. Keep in mind that since he has had the dog 11 years the courts are going to side with him that he is the majority owner of the dog.

At this point your only recourse is to take this to court. At that time you can argue the case and request a court ordered visitation or ownership of the dog. I know you do not wish to go to court but at this time that is your only real option other then taking the dog and possibly being charged with theft.

Walter

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
But the "agreement" we made was only verbal and we have had equal visitation rights with this dog. He has had no more ownership than I have for the last 11 years. I have family and friends to contest to the fact that the dog has been a major part of our family this whole time. Why would he be considered the major owner? And why would a verbal statement be held so high if his verbal statements now are not? I'm confused. Will the judge really enforce an agreement that only was made between my ex and myself? There is no written proof of it.
Also, is it theft if the dog is partly mine too? All of my neighbors would say that the dog lives with me too.
Expert:  Walter replied 6 years ago.

Hello,

I am basing my answers on your original question. You stated that he had the dog and was withholding visitation. (That would imply he has ownership and you have visitation). I am sure he can get plenty of people to claim the dog lives with him full time and they see the dog laying in the road everyday........your own statements confirm this.

As for would a verbal agreement stand up if it was not written the answer is yes....a verbal agreement is just as enforceable as a written agreement, the only difference is a verbal is harder to prove if one person is lying.

As far as theft.......no he would not gave committed theft as he has had the dog as agreed upon. This is a civil issue and one that must be decided in civil court. If you take the dog, the police are going to be required to arrest you for theft........I just want you to know the full story before taking action. He is going to tell them that there was a verbal agreement and you came and took the dog without permission thus making it a theft case.

If you have the dog, and he came to your house and took the dog without permission then you could file a theft case. The fact is this is civil..........and no one can change this without a court order. Right now he would be the presumed owner since the dog is with him. If you take it that would be theft. You must change ownership of the dog before you can take it.

I am sorry, I wish I had better news.

Walter

Walter, Legal Consultant
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 11528
Experience: Family Law Consultant Specializing In Interpretation Of Family and General Law.
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Walter
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Family Law Consultant Specializing In Interpretation Of Family and General Law.