“Pets are often treated like children by the individuals and the couples will not consider ownership of the family pet as part of a property settlement agreement. Disputes arise over custody and visitation and courts have been lenient in their control over such disagreements.
When couples face divorce or legal separation, they must divide many assets, finances, property and belongings. Among these assets are the family pets. People commonly hear of disputes over child custody or visitation, but for some couples, custody of pets may be just as emotionally consuming.
Alternatively, there are anti-cruelty laws that some courts may use as authority in determining which spouse gets ownership of the family pet. In those instances, the court may consider the best interests of the pet. These courts seem to take into account the emotional aspect of pet custody. Pet owners spend a large amount of money on their family pets and often regard them as children. Some courts are beginning to consider this trend when applying the law and making their determination. However, this view is in the minority. Most courts will not extend the best interest’s standard to animals. Therefore, the majority of the courts are still relying on property law when deciding the custody of a companion animal.
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