Securing Custody of Your Pet During Divorce

For many people, their dog, cat, bird, turtle etc is more than just a pet, they are a close friend, and member of the family. And as difficult as resolving issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets can be during a divorce, for many couples deciding custody of a pet can be just as difficult.

With this in mind, it is no surprise that a 2014 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey found that divorce disputes over pet custody had increased by an astonishing 22%! Clearly, retaining custody of a family pet is important to many people, so if you are concerned about retaining the custody of your dog, cat, or other pet after your divorce, here are some important things to keep in mind.

The Law and Pet Custody, Westfield Divorce Lawyer

As they say, possession is nine-tenths of the law, and when it comes to pet custody and divorce, this is no different.

While you may see your dog or cat as your friend and a member of your family, the law does not see things the same way. In fact, the law views pets as property, meaning they will favor the original owner of the pet, or the person who regularly paid for its expenses like food and veterinarian bills when it comes to awarding custody of that pet during divorce.

Things like which side of the bed your dog sleeps on, or which person they seem to prefer will not be taken into account by the courts if it is left to them to decide who gets custody of your pet as part of your divorce settlement agreement. However, that does not mean you are without options when it comes to ensuring that you retain custody of your pet after your divorce.

Securing Custody of Your Pet in a Union County Divorce

So while the courts will only consider ownership and financial responsibility when awarding pet custody, that does not mean you and your partner can come to an agreement on your own. For example, some divorcing couples have found success in a “shared custody” model, meaning their pet takes turns living in each party’s home after the divorce. While this cannot work for every couple, and every pet, it can and has worked for many already.

Or, if shared pet custody does not seem to be an option, you may wish to speak with your Union County divorce attorney about negotiating concessions in other areas of your divorce settlement agreement in exchange for retaining the custody of your pet after the divorce.

Finally, as funny as it may sound, many individuals are now creating “pet prenuptials”, or adding terms regarding the custody of a pet to their prenuptial agreement. As with any kind of prenuptial agreement, by deciding pet custody in this manner, you and your partner can avoid a great deal of stress, time, and expense when it comes to deciding custody of a family pet in the event that you do divorce.

Contact A Union County Divorce and Pet Custody Attorney Today

At The Law Office of Edward Cooper, we have extensive experience helping clients to resolve their divorce in a fair, reasonable, and as effective a manner as possible in towns across New Jersey and Union County, including Westfield, Elizabeth, Plainfield, Union, Scotch Plains, and Linden.

Attorney Edward S. Cooper strongly believes in keeping each of his clients highly informed and involved in whatever legal matter they are facing, and that by doing so, he can better work to achieve the resolution which best meets his clients’ needs and concerns, and accurately reflects their unique situation.

To speak with Edward Cooper today in a confidential consultation regarding your divorce, any of its related issues, or how he can help you to retain custody of a family pet during your divorce, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625.