Dogs and Divorce: Pet Custody

When a childless couple divorces there is generally no issue of custody, except when there is a dispute about who will get custody of the four legged family members.

The ABA Journal E Report features a case in which a lawyer was appointed as guardian ad litem for a dog in a contested custody dispute. This report lead a columnist for the Times and Democrat to imagine the negotiation for custody of a dog in a divorce:

There would be many issues to discuss: Who will get primary custody and who will get visitation rights? Is joint custody a possibility? With whom does the dog spend holidays? Then there is the issue of doggie support: Who will be responsible for the dog’s veterinary care and the associated expenses? Who will pay for his grooming? Well, at least the couple wouldn’t have to argue about who pays for his education.

In my experience, when a divorcing couple disputes custody of a dog or cat, courts have treated the matter not as a custody dispute but as a personal property issue.

Tell me about your experiences.

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