In the United States, approximately 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. When a partner files for divorce, the difficult process of wrapping up the marriage begins. As couples begin to drill out the specifics of the divorce with their attorneys, many immediately wonder which spouse is entitled to receive the dog, cat, or other family pet. This consideration isn’t surprising; around 62 percent of American households have at least one animal. The nastier the divorce, the more likely that children and pets can become a bargaining chip in the messy division of assets process. This is especially the case when one or both spouses have significant emotional attachments to the pet.
Pet custody disputes are on the rise and are being litigated in courts more often than in the past, with most disputes focusing on custody of family dogs. This is ultimately for two reasons. First, the degree of attachment that people feel for their pets is something that they often want to maintain, especially in light of the ending of a serious relationship like a marriage. Thus, some couples are willing to battle for months in order to receive custody of the family pet. Second, most couples do not plan for pet custody issues before or after marriage. This is because pet custody issues only arise upon divorce instead of being considered when the couple is still happy and together.
Tips for Handling Pet Custody Issues
Within the court system, pets are considered personal property from a legal standpoint. Thus, a prenuptial agreement could be used to outline the procedure for pet custody if divorce occurs. If a prenuptial agreement is not an option, you could also enter into a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement could also include a clear procedure for outlining who receives pet custody upon the occurrence of divorce. Sadly, many couples do not find it necessary to plan for the demise of their relationship, which is understandable. Thus, it is often left to the court to decide which spouse will receive the pet upon divorce.
Connecticut law does not provide any legal provisions that address pet custody. Because of this, the court can consider a great variety of factors when determining who has the right to pet custody. Some of the typical factors that a court could base a custody ruling on include the following:
If the pet belonged to one of the spouse’s before marriage, that same spouse will often be granted custody of the pet;
The spouse that feeds and is the one that primarily cares for the pet is more likely to receive custody;
The parent with custody of the children might also receive custody of the pet if the kids are attached to the family pet; and
The spouse who is determined better suited to care for the pet might be given custody. The court may make this determination by looking at who has more time and resources to care for the pet.
Presenting evidence of the above factors in court could greatly increase the likelihood that you will be granted custody of your pet. Do you need pet custody advice and other answers about divorce-related issues? Contact the Connecticut family law attorneys at Greenberg & Krieger LLP in Fairfield County, Connecticut for professional assistance with filing for divorce and custody-related issues.