When a couple ends their marriage, one of the most important decisions
to be made is what type of child custody arrangement to make. Where your
kids live and how often they visit the other parent helps to shape your
children’s future, and give them the security they need to adjust
to the new family structure. A question that frequently arises in custody
issues, that may seem strange to some, is who gets the family pet? A lot
of people become very attached to their pets, and when they get divorced
the question of who gets Fluffy can become quite heated.
While there is no specific law on pet custody (like there is for child
custody), there are some factors to take into account when deciding where
the pets will live. A few factors the Court will look at are which spouse
is the primary caretaker for the pet, and who spends the most time with
the animal. A Judge will also look at where the kids are living, because
many times keeping a pet with a child can be a great comfort during an
If you have more detailed questions on “who gets the pet”,
there is actually a Court of Appeals
case on the topic. In that case it was made clear an animal is treated the
same as property and in a divorce gets awarded to one or the other party.
In the Court of Appeals case, the couple was not actually married but
was simply dating. In determining who got the dog, the Court considered
not only that the dog was legally defined as property, but also took sentimental
value into consideration. In this way, the decision on who gets custody
of pet is similar to decisions made regarding your children. When a Court
decides who gets custody of kids during a divorce, the best interests
of the children are the overriding factor for the Court’s consideration.
Emotion certainly plays a part in this decision, just as it does when
parties fight over a family pet. If you have questions about custody,
including custody of a pet, call our office for answers.