The Law Office of Jeffrey A. April, Esquire
contact us for quick responses to your legal questions
Toll-free: (800) 724 7232 Local: (609) 736 2203
E-Mail Us Today Click Here

Divorces involving pet custody

Many couples in New Jersey who are considering a divorce are able to reach an agreement on such matters as spousal support and who will stay in the marital home. However, deciding who will get custody of the family pets is often a very contentious issue.

Courts generally consider pets to be personal property, and as such, whether the divorce occurs in a community property state or in one that follows equitable division laws can determine the award of the pet. However, in part due to a rise in the number of divorce cases that involve these issues, many judges have started to view pets as something more important than artwork or furniture when it comes to determining custody.

Some courts have come to embrace the same "best interests" principle that is used in determining custody and visitation rights concerning children. They may look at which spouse has more available time and resources to take care of the pets. If there are young children who are attached to their dog, a judge may consider awarding the pet to the spouse that has primary custody of the offspring. Experts are sometimes called upon to render their opinions as to what spouse would be better for the pet.

Couples going through a divorce also have the option of including pet custody and visitation issues in a negotiated settlement agreement that would cover other matters traditionally arising when a marriage terminates. It is possible that the family's circumstances and feelings may suggest a shared custody arrangement. Another option would be to agree on having the pets going to one spouse with the other given visitation rights and appropriate support responsibilities.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Who Gets the Family Dog After Divorce?", Nancy Kay, November 10, 2013

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

200 South Shore Road
Marmora, NJ 08223

Toll Free: 800-724-7232
Phone: 609-736-2203
Fax: 609-390-9363
Marmora Law Office Map