When it comes to the term “child custody,” most people will only think of human children. For some couples, their pets are their children, and there can be just as much of a battle over who gets the dog or cat after a divorce. Family and divorce law is designated to protect the rights and best interests of human children and divorce, whereas laws regarding who gets the family pet are placed toward the best interest of the owner.
Pets are considered personal and community property of a couple and the court can award custody of a pet to only one owner. If there are minor children involved in the divorce, the pet will usually be placed in the home where the children spend the most of their time. If there are no minor children, the judge will take into consideration the agreements that can possibly be made between each spouse regarding custody of the pet.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement or there is contest to the judges decision about where the pet will go, the judge can and may order the pet to be sold.
Just as it can be done in regular divorce proceedings over property, child custody, etc., mediation is also an option for divorcing couples that cannot agree on where the pet should go.
The court may also take into consideration the overall situation surrounding your pet, such as its health, training, and other needs. Both parties do have the option of formulating a sort of “custody agreement” about the pet, which will outline who will retain ownership of the dog, if there are visitation rights, financial responsibility for the pet, and who can make medical decisions for the pet, including euthanasia.
Any pet can quickly become part of the family. For more information on having your rights legally protected in a divorce, whether it be over a pet, child, or a piece of furniture, contact a Surprise divorce attorney at The Sampair Group.