Case Law Friday:

The Austin Texas Court of Appeals clarified the law related to possession of pooches after a divorce in case of Calder v. Calder. The question was who had the right to the dog after the divorce. The dog was bought before the marriage, but by who, asked the Chief Austin Appellate Judge “Woodie” Jones?

Wife Brooke  emailed with the dog owner about buying the dog, Chihuahua Clementine, and negotiated the purchase price of $500. Husband Daniel admitted there was never any question that the dog was being purchased by Wife Brookee and for  Wife Brooke. Wife Brooke routinely gave Husband Daniel her paychecks to be deposited in Husband Daniel’s bank account and Husband Daniel gave her money when she needed it. Wife Brooke gave Husband Daniel money a few days before Chihuahua Clementine was purchased totaling $948. Around the same time, he withdrew $600 in cash, paying $400 of it to the dog owner. The Austin Court reviewed the law that puppies are items of property in Texas. Because the funds used to purchase Chihuahua Clementine were Wife Brooke’s money before the marriage, the dog belongs to her.

Separate property in Texas is that which was owned before the date of the marriage, or received during the marriage through gift or inheritance.

When asked how much money the husband spent appealing the issues regarding ownership of the dog, the husband’s attorney replied, “Too much.”  Um… No kidding.

My grandmother always said, "You know the best way to get over losing a puppy? Get a new puppy!" Of course, she meant that in the context of dating advice, not actually puppies, but still….

See the full opinion in Calder v. Calder.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.