Washington residents may have heard that one component of a lawsuit filed by Patricia Cohen against her husband Steven Cohen, founder of SAC Capital, was recently dismissed by a district court judge in New York. However, fraud charges brought by Ms. Cohen against her former husband were allowed to continue. Part of her original complaint dealt with civil RICO charges, which were eventually dismissed by the judge hearing the case. The fraud charges are tied to her belief that Mr. Cohen knowingly hid money that he received due to an apartment investment deal from her.
Many Washington couples consider their pets as a part of their family. However, they may be shocked to learn that the law does not agree. If the couple decides to divorce, pets are considered to be property, like cars and homes, and the family pet will likely be included in a property settlements. With nearly 63 percent of households owning pets, it is not surprising that custody battles involving pets are increasing. According to a survey of a group of divorce attorneys, about 25 percent of respondents noticed an increase in pet custody cases.
A recent appellate court decision may impart valuable advice to Washington residents wanting to prevent protracted dispute over complex asset division during divorce. The litigants were a couple who executed a prenuptial agreement to exempt all gifts, inheritances and personal business profits from equitable property division in the event of marital dissolution. During their marriage, the woman quit her career to stay home with the couple's four children, and the man built a telecom business that became successful within a year of their high asset divorce. When he later defaulted on court-ordered spousal and child support payments of more than $4,500, the ex-wife went back to court. Her ex-husband pleaded lack of income caused by no longer having an ownership interest in the company and subsistence solely on gifts from his former business partner and in-laws.
Washington spouses going through a divorce who wish to make the process less adversarial may want to consider a more collaborative option. Divorce mediation can provide a channel for divorcing spouses to preserve greater financial stability with less conflict.
Washington residents who are preparing to divorce may be wondering how to decide who will get to keep the family pet. While most pet owners consider their creatures to be as beloved as children, historically, the law has not treated them as such. Unlike child custody issues, pet disputes typically are not referred to mediation. When judges were asked to decide the fate of a pet, the usual practice was to treat it as a piece of property.