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How Pet Custody Is Determined In New York

How Pet Custody Is Determined in New York

Americans spend roughly $109.6 billion on their pets each year, and that number only continues to grow. It is no secret that pet owners love their furry companions and will spare no expense when it comes to the health and happiness of their four-legged friends. Yet, what happens when the love you shared with your partner ends, but the love you both share for your pet doesn’t?

At The Mandel Law Firm, we understand that pets are integral members of your family. When your family dynamic is changing, like in a divorce, it is natural to wonder what will happen to your fur baby. Pet custody issues are real. Our attorneys want to help you understand what to expect when going through a divorce when you have a pet and how pet custody is determined in New York.

The Best for All Concerned Standard

New York courts do not view pet custody through the same lens that they view child custody. When children are involved, a New York court will use the “best interests of the child” standard to resolve custody issues. While the definition of “best interests” varies from state to state, it generally means that a court will examine all aspects of a family’s physical, emotional, and financial situation to establish what custody arrangement promotes the overall well-being of a child.

Although courts do not put pets in the same category as children, the courts also don’t view pets as pieces of personal property to be divided like a couch or car. Thanks to recent legislation, pets are no longer considered property. Instead, they are seen more as sentient beings who deserve respect and consideration during the divorce process. In pet custody cases, New York courts now use the best interests of the animal” standard to determine custody and visitation.

How Does a Court Determine What Is Best for All Concerned?

A New York court will review several aspects of the pet-family relationship when considering custody and visitation for a beloved pet. Typically, the court sides with the pet’s primary caretaker. However, they will also consider the following:

  • Who spends the most time with the pet regularly?
  • Who meets the daily needs of the pet?
  • What is the most preferable living situation for the pet?
  • Do the parties involved have children?
  • Is a shared custody arrangement feasible?

A court may also consider each spouse’s work and travel schedule and the couple’s child custody arrangements. Children who form tight relationships with their pets may also influence how a court determines pet custody. The answers to these questions will generally determine who retains custody of the cherished pet.

Is Shared Custody Feasible?

In some situations, it may be feasible to share custody of a four-legged friend. An agreement can be arrived at privately outlining custody arrangements between parties. A New York court can also help determine a shared custody schedule depending on the animal’s needs and where each party lives. However, sharing pet custody arrangements can sometimes be challenging to enforce. Shuttling a pet back and forth between different homes may be stressful and eventually detrimental to the animal’s health.

Contact a Skilled Family Law Attorney to Talk About Your Case Today

At The Mandel Law Firm, we know just how much your furry friend means to you. They are your constant companion and source of never-ending love and affection. Separating from your partner shouldn’t mean having to give up your other life partner.

If you are divorcing and concerned about your pet, talk to an experienced family law attorney at The Mandel Law Firm. We want to help you resolve your pet custody issue and achieve the most positive outcome possible for you and your furry companion. Contact our office today or call (646) 770-3868 to set up a confidential case review.

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