Custody of the Pet
During a divorce, the division of property can be a contentious issue, especially regarding pets. In Pennsylvania, courts treat pets in the same manner as personal property. There is no special provision for shared custody or visitation. Often, a Judge may even refuse to decide the issue. For the sake of the pet, it is best for the parties to come to a mutual agreement. Here are some things to consider:
Needs of the pet
After a divorce, living arrangements and time schedules can change drastically. This change can have a big impact on a dog, cat or other animal. When considering who will take custody of the pet, try to put the needs of the pet first. For example –
- Who has a house or yard with adequate space for the pet?
- Who has the most time to care for the pet?
- If the pet has special medical needs, who can provide the best care?
Children tend to form deep attachments to pets and separation can add another emotional burden to an already difficult process. It may be best that the pet and the children share the same post-divorce living arrangements.
A spouse may have an ulterior motive in fighting for pet custody and it is not uncommon for spouses to fight for pet custody simply because they know it would hurt the other party. The pet may also be used by a spouse to negotiate for another high-ticket item during settlement negotiations. If a Judge does consider this issue, many times, the pet will be awarded to the party who purchased the pet even though the other party cared for it.
If you are afraid of losing a beloved pet in a divorce or have any other questions, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys.