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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 87776
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I split with my ex of 5 years and we decided to switch the dog, which we both paid for and

Customer Question

I split with my ex of 5 years and we decided to switch the dog, which we both paid for and split down the middle, off every other week until we could figure out what to do. I asked that we go to arbitration and he agreed and said he'd pick a firm. He took a month to do this and then when I asked for his decision, he changed his mind and instead served me papers for small claims court for the amount of $1. I was clearly the primary caregiver to the dog, did everything in good faith to solve this in a civil manner. I want to just keep the dog because it is wearing on his health and I feel that he is doing this out of spite. Also, i think the court won't even hear the case.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ely replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

Welcome to JustAnswer and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. Please remember that there might be a delay between your follow up questions and my answers because I may be helping other clients or taking a break.

I am sorry for your situation. What exactly is your question?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Sorry - I guess there's several. Is it even legal to sue for the property of an animal in small claims court. Do you think the court will even make a ruling that will affect who has custody of the dog. Is it illegal for me to simply keep the animal. Is there anything else I can do to keep him.
Expert:  Ely replied 3 years ago.
No need to apologize at all.

It is legal to sue for property, although he is not going about it the right way. He would sue for "conversion," and list the elements to prove said action, and then aim to prove it.

The Court in small claims gives a lot of leeway because often, the parties are not versed in litigation procedures. So you can likely get this dismissed if you want, but he'd refile, no doubt.

Simply write an answer and explain to the Judge what you explained to me. Then the Court will rule on the matter despite his rambling petition. The Court will likely give the dog to you since you already have him, or go off who originally paid for the dig's purchase.

I hope you found my answer helpful, and if so please click on the ACCEPT button. This is the only way for me to get credit for my work; I receive no credit for my time with you unless you press ACCEPT.

If you still need to clarify something or seek more information, just use the INFO button and I’d be more than happy to follow up to your satisfaction! There is no fee for follow up questions before or after an accept, should you wish to continue in the thread, and I encourage you to do so should you need clarification!

While the legal system tries to be inclusive of every possibility, sometimes, people are morally wronged but have limited legal avenues to seek relief. If so, please understand that this is not the expert’s fault, but the way of circumstance.

If you feel that I went an extra step to help, a bonus is always appreciated!

You can always request me for a future advice through my profile at http://www.justanswer.com/profile.aspx?PF=7286322&FID=7 If you do this, make sure to begin the question with “This Question is for Eli…”
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
So the big question is, do you think it'll look bad on me if I keep the dog. Because when he filed the suit, I didn't even have the dog in my possession! But now, I'm thinking that I'm going to just keep him because our court date isn't for another month and I feel like it's bad for his health. Also, we both paid for him...
Expert:  Ely replied 3 years ago.
Not at all. If you both paid for him, the the dog belongs to both of you. So since you have a legitimate claim to the dog, you can keep it. Simply because he filed the claim does not mean that he has an upper hand to ownership.

I hope you found my answer helpful, and if so please click on the ACCEPT button. This is the only way for me to get credit for my work; I receive no credit for my time with you unless you press ACCEPT.

If you still need to clarify something or seek more information, just use the INFO button and I’d be more than happy to follow up to your satisfaction! There is no fee for follow up questions before or after an accept, should you wish to continue in the thread, and I encourage you to do so should you need clarification!

While the legal system tries to be inclusive of every possibility, sometimes, people are morally wronged but have limited legal avenues to seek relief. If so, please understand that this is not the expert’s fault, but the way of circumstance.

If you feel that I went an extra step to help, a bonus is always appreciated!

You can always request me for a future advice through my profile at http://www.justanswer.com/profile.aspx?PF=7286322&FID=7 If you do this, make sure to begin the question with “This Question is for Eli…”
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
One more point of clarification: The paragraph where you say:
"Simply write an answer and explain to the Judge what you explained to me. Then the Court will rule on the matter despite his rambling petition."
Do you mean write a letter prior to the court date? Or appear on the court date prepared to explain what I explained to you? How can I go about getting it dismissed?
Expert:  Ely replied 3 years ago.
Sure.

Technically speaking, you can get it dismissed with a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that the petition itself lacked a claim of action and other such shortcomings.

This is up to you if you want to do this, but realize that it means drafting the Summary Judgment and filing it, and setting it for a hearing, and then notifying him of it. It may not be worth your time since he'd simply refile properly, having learned his lesson as how to do so.

By answering, I mean that you have to file an answer with the court, and send a copy to him certified mail, RRR. I am including a sample below:


TITLE AND PARTIES (just copy of their filing)

DEFENDANT'S ORIGINAL ANSWER (centered)

NOW COMES Defendant, YOUR NAME, named Defendant in the above-entitled and numbered cause, and files this Original Answer, and shows the Court:

PARTY IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION 1. The last three digits of the driver's license number of YOUR NAME are ...... The last three digits of the social security number for YOUR NAME are .....

GENERAL DENIAL
Defendant denies each and every allegation of Plaintiff's Original Petition, and demands strict proof thereof as required by rules of evidence and procedure for the State of _________.

PRAYER
Defendant prays the Court, after notice and hearing or trial, enters judgment in favor of Defendant, awards Defendant the costs of court, attorney's fees, and such other and further relief as Defendant may be entitled to in law or in equity.

Respectfully submitted,

Your Signature

Your name


(NEW PAGE)

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE (centered)

I certify that on (date filed) a true and correct copy of Defendant's Original Answer was served to the opposite party via (fax/cert mail).

Your Signature

Your name

You file a copy with the Court, and file a copy with the opposite side by cert letter (RRR). You should do this ASAP so as not to default.

I hope you found my answer helpful, and if so please click on the ACCEPT button. This is the only way for me to get credit for my work; I receive no credit for my time with you unless you press ACCEPT.

If you still need to clarify something or seek more information, just use the INFO button and I’d be more than happy to follow up to your satisfaction! There is no fee for follow up questions before or after an accept, should you wish to continue in the thread, and I encourage you to do so should you need clarification!

While the legal system tries to be inclusive of every possibility, sometimes, people are morally wronged but have limited legal avenues to seek relief. If so, please understand that this is not the expert’s fault, but the way of circumstance.

If you feel that I went an extra step to help, a bonus is always appreciated!

You can always request me for a future advice through my profile at http://www.justanswer.com/profile.aspx?PF=7286322&FID=7 If you do this, make sure to begin the question with “This Question is for Eli…”
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I'm a little confused about that. The paper that he served me just said a court date on it. It didn't ask that I "answer". Also, there wasn't really any allegations in it, it just said "to return the property of a yellow lab named doc holliday" - a deputy sherrif served me at work. (and said it was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever seen.) Also, what does "default" mean.
Expert:  Ely replied 3 years ago.
I would file an answer anyhow - it is good practice and the Judge would have a written summary of your argument a their fingertips - this would really help because I expect you two will be cutting each other off and jumping from point to point at the hearing.

Default means to win a case not by skill, but by simple rules (ex: the other team did not show up).
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Do I provide evidence in the "answer" as well, like emails and such? Also, will you look at the letter before I send it? BTW - this website and you are AWESOME.
Expert:  Ely replied 3 years ago.
Of course I will look at the letter (I am guessing you mean ANSWER).

I cannot comment too much because experts are not supposed to be drafting legal papers for customers on this site, but I can give a general critique.

Since this is small claims, evidence is pretty lax. Evidence can be attached as "Exhibit A," "Exhibit B," and so on to the Answer. The reference to it in the answer can be made such as, "Plaintiff has indicated numerous times to Defendant that the canine in question is the property of the Defendant and Plaintiff seeks no claim to the contrary. (See Exhibit A-C)."

[T]his website and you are AWESOME
Thank you!
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 87776
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
Ely and 7 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Cool. I'll get to drafting. This has been really helpful. Thanks!
Expert:  Ely replied 3 years ago.
My pleasure - I'll be here. If I am not, I will answer when I log back in.

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