Pet Custody Battles in Divorce

The question of who gets to keep the pets after a divorce is becoming more popular among former couples today. As divorce rates continue to rise, the question of who gets custody of the pets is becoming a popular question. Whether couples have children or not, pets become a part of the family. However, only a few solutions are open to divorcing pet owners who want to fight for custody of their pets.


A pet is considered personal property under the law. This categorizes your pets in the same manner as any other material objects in your divorce. So, what does that mean for the ownership of your pets in divorce? For many divorced couples, pet ownership becomes a topic discussed in divorce court. Here’s what you can expect if you are a pet owner heading for divorce.


What Happens with Custody of Pets in Divorce


When it comes to your pets, the following considerations will be taken when you file for divorce:


  • In most cases, the court will assign one person in a divorce case to obtain custody of the pets. For families with multiple pets, ownership may be split. Before a court appoints custody, they will consider which party can be more attentive to the animals’ needs.
  • The court will emphasize whoever gets custody of the pet will be required to handle all care, treatment, and daily needs.
  • If you came into the relationship with your pet, most cases would award ownership to the original pet owner.


Can There Be Shared Custody with Pets?


In some cases, shared custody is allowed. However, you will be required to outline the specifics of the agreement before settling the court case. Most judges don’t want to see you back in court regarding your pet once shared custody is arranged. Therefore, you’ll need to handle the following before closing your case:


  • Make a concise written agreement regarding arrangements.
  • Provide a detailed outline regarding medical care and authorization to make decisions regarding the animal’s health and well-being.
  • If end-of-life decisions need to be made, your agreement should outline the terms of making those decisions.


Can I Fight for Custody of My Pet?


Going through a divorce is a stressful and troubling time for everyone involved. Before you enter a custody battle over your pet, consider the circumstances. Does the pet have a better relationship with one party than the other? Just as you care for your pet, they are highly susceptible to emotional and behavioral changes due to the circumstances of their living situation. Consider the wellbeing of your animal in your custody battle. Don’t simply fight for custody to get revenge on your soon-to-be ex-spouse.


If you have children, consider allowing the animals to share the same custody arrangement as your children. Be sure you have the means to fulfill the needs of your pet before requesting custody.


Contact Johnson Law Firm for a Free Consultation


If you need a Lancaster divorce lawyer with experience handling pet custody arrangements, we’re here to help! Contact Johnson Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate attorneys.