Custody is a common issue that arises during a divorce proceeding. While people typically think of children when it comes to a custody decision, there are an increasing number of divorce custody agreements surrounding pets. According to one mediator, “I tell attorneys who are handling divorces, number one, ask if they have kids. Number two, ask if they have pets…These days pets are just as important as kids.”
It is estimated that almost half of divorce cases include a pet custody agreement, while another 10 percent of divorces hit a snag when it comes to who gets the pet. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a survey in which 27 percent of attorneys reported an increase in pet custody cases, with 88 percent involving dogs. The survey revealed that only five percent of cases involve cats. However, divorce custody agreements do not only involve furry friends. The survey revealed that iguanas, pythons, parrots and even turtles have been the subjects of dispute. One expert suggests, “I think what is happening is that a lot of people are choosing not to have children, but they are getting pets earlier than ever…Therefore pets become like children – and people will fight for them.”
For couples who are divorcing and have children, the pet will typically go with the parent who takes the children. However, an agreement can be made to share custody of the pet along the same lines as an agreement for shared custody of the children. Child custody decisions are based on determining the child’s best interests, including the health, safety and welfare of the child. Pets are not viewed the same way under the law; in fact, pets are considered property, just like furniture or a car. Determining who gets the pet or how to divide the pet’s time between the two individuals will usually be determined at the negotiating table.
How an Attorney Can Help with Your Custody Agreement
Whether you need help negotiating a fair child or pet custody agreement, the team at Men’s Legal Center is here to help. Our divorce attorneys have extensive experience helping fathers seek a fair custody settlement. We can also help you with asset division and other parts of the divorce process.
If you are contemplating divorce or need help during the divorce process, from beginning to end, the team at Men’s Legal Center is here. We will be on your side and aggressively represent your interests. Let us help you by giving us a call today.