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Pet Custody Cases Increasing During Divorce

April 14, 2017

Many couples getting divorced in the United States have to deal with dividing property and assets during their divorce negotiations. Couples who have children also have to discuss child custody arrangements and figure out a way to successfully co-parent with their ex.

Child custody disputes during divorce can be very hard for couples. An issue that is not usually thought about at the beginning of a divorce is who will get to keep the family pet. Pets are often treated like additional family members in many households in America, and more divorce cases include pet custody issues.

Did you know that 63 percent of households in the U.S. have pets? The National Pet Owners Survey found that roughly 71.1 million households have pets, with an estimated 44 million families owning dogs.

With so many couples and families have pets, it is not surprising that more divorces include pet custody disputes. However, current laws don’t treat family pets like children so pets are treated as property in most divorce cases.

This can make discussing pet custody issues challenging when both spouses want custody of the pet after the divorce. In many cases, if one spouse had the pet before the marriage, they are awarded custody of the pet. The other spouse may receive visitation but since pets are considered property, it can be hard to enforce visitation agreements after the divorce has been finalized. Many divorce attorneys are trying to get courts to look at the best interests of the pet, just like they do in child custody cases so the process seems fairer to both spouses.

Spouses getting divorced should be aware of how their family pets will be treated during the divorce proceedings. It may be in everyone’s best interests to try to come up with an agreement on your own instead of relying on a judge because they may only see your pet as property instead of a member of the family.

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