December 4, 2008

New Case Law – Pet Visitation and Enforcement of Settlement Agreement

As a Portland Oregon divorce law firm, Stephens & Margolin LLP is dedicated to keeping up to date on Oregon Court of Appeals and Oregon Supreme Court opinions. As a service of The Oregon Divorce Blog, we will be providing updates as new opinions come out.

On December 3, 2008, the Oregon Court of Appeals published an opinion in Wolf and Taylor, a domestic partnership dissolution in which the court decided whether a settlement agreement was enforceable when one provision was not and whether the court could order visitation with a pet. 

The parties were unmarried, but lived together with an intention to share their assets from 1989 until 2005.  The parties entered into a settlement agreement which set forth a complete division of their assets and relationship.  Included in that agreement was a clause providing that one party would keep the parties’ dog, Mike, but the other party would receive visitation with Mike.  The party who was to have visits with the dog tried to invalidate the agreement in whole by saying that the provision providing for visitation with the dog was unenforceable.  The agreement provided that if one portion of it was invalidated, then the remainder would stand.  The trial court enforced the settlement agreement.

As a matter of law, a pet is personal property.  The court does not have the ability to make an enforceable provision of a judgment providing visitation rights to personal property. 

The court of appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling without determining whether or not the pet visitation provision was enforceable because the remainder of the agreement was enforceable.




You can review the full opinion in Wolf and Taylor at

The lawyers at Stephens & Margolin LLP can assist unmarried domestic partners in drafting settlement agreements and in better understanding the law in Oregon regarding dissolution of domestic partnerships.  If you have any questions about Oregon appellate law please contact Daniel Margolin or C. Sean Stephens at Stephens & Margolin LLP