Who Gets Fido? Determining Pet Custody In A Divorce

Sadly, the divorce rate is much higher today than it once was. In fact, some studies estimate that about fifty-percent of marriages today end in divorce. Regardless of the reason for separation, divorce can be a painful and arduous ordeal. But what happens if you share a pet and have to undergo a custody battle about who gets the family dog or cat? It might not be the first thing on your mind, but pet custody is often an area of contention in divorce. Read on to find out what kind of factors are considered so you can be prepared to make the best decision for your pet.

Pets Are Property

Even though you don't think of your loyal friend as property, most courts consider them to be a piece of personal property in legal terms. This can cause a problem if your pet was not previously mentioned in a prenuptial agreement. The judge may ask who pays for things like food, veterinary care, and other expenses regarding your pet. If you can prove that you've been footing the bill to care for your pet, the odds are in your favor that you'll get to keep them. If you signed off on and paid for the dog license with the city, this is also a definite advantage. 

Living Conditions

Similar to children, the pet's living conditions are taken into consideration in divorce cases. For example, if you are moving to a small walk-up apartment and your soon-to-be ex lives on four acres, the court may determine that they're best suited to keep the pet. If one of you travels frequently, the other may be given custody of the pet since they'll be able to care for it full time. The court may also ask which of you will have custody of the children for the most period of time. Whoever gets main custody of the child may be prone to get the pet as well. It is important to document everything so you can prove that you'll be better suited to care for your pet full time.

Making Your Case

If you're dealing with a challenge over who gets to keep the family pet, it's important to be able to plead your case in a clear and succinct manner. Make sure the judge understands that you will be best suited to care for the pet in terms of the environment, financial stability, and overall well-being. If you can document veterinary visits paid for in your name and a proven track record of being the main caregiver, you're more likely to be granted custody. Having ample proof of ownership is the best way to convince the court that your dog or cat will be best served by getting to stay with you. Divorce is never easy, and pets are an important part of life that should be considered during the difficult process. Contact a lawyer, like Moore Robert G Attorney at Law, for help.