When couples divorce, who get to keep the pets? | Lane & Lane, LLC
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When couples divorce, who get to keep the pets?

Every New Jersey couple who is going through a divorce will have their own unique set of priorities. For many, child custody matters will rule the day. Others will focus on the division of marital property. For some, however, one of the most contentious and stressful aspects of their divorce will involve the family pets.

Pet lovers can become very emotionally connected to the animals that they love. It is not uncommon for both spouses to care for a beloved dog or cat, and want to take that pet with them as the marriage comes to an end. For those who cannot come to an agreement on the matter, it can be surprising to learn that many courts are not willing to weigh in on "pet custody" issues.

This is because the courts approach pets as simply another form of personal property. Unlike disagreements over which party will retain child custody rights, family court judges are unlikely to ponder which living arrangements are in the best interests of a pet. This leaves spouses on their own when determining the placement of their animals.

The best course of action for New Jersey pet owners who are going through a divorce is to try to approach the matter in an objective way. In many cases one party is better equipped to give an animal the time and attention that it needs to thrive. Often, children are very attached to their pets, and allowing the animal to remain in the home where the children will reside in the best choice. For those who are not able to reach an agreement, it is always possible to work out a "shared custody" arrangement in which the pet moves back and forth between households.

Source: Huffington Post, Who Gets the Family Dog After Divorce?, Nancy Kay, Nov. 10, 2013

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