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Couples asking courts to see pet as a 'he' or 'she' not an 'it'

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers often conducts surveys that help determine what is happening across the nation concerning family law issues. A trend has developed over the past few years that questions a long-standing legal theory. That theory is that a pet is considered property in a divorce.

The law has long regarded a pet as a piece of property that is divided with the same consideration that a set of fine china would be given. Pet parents don’t often see their furry companion in the same light. Many pet owners consider their animal a vital member of the family, and want him or her considered the same way during a divorce.

How have courts treated a request for a pet custody consideration? It can depend on the jurisdiction and the judge. In some cases, a judge will simply refuse to hear a request of this type and the pet will fall right in with the rest of the couple’s marital assets during property division. In other cases, the court has gone as far as allowing parents to present expert witness testimony on what is best for the pet moving forward.

An attorney can help pet parents in Franklin, Ohio, come to a solution for their pet’s needs. An out-of-court agreement is one way to make sure that a pet is given the consideration it deserves, and a parent can make some “best interest” determinations of their own to help.

For instance, a pet parent may want to think about the cost that a pet requires. Will this cost be shared? Does a pet owner want this responsibility moving forward?

There are other questions too. What do the couples’ work schedules look like? Is a job conducive to owning a pet? Will the couple keep up with a shared-custody plan into the future? Are there children involved, and do they have a special attachment to the pet?

Answering these questions first can help pet parents decide for themselves what they want, making it easier for an attorney to help provide options that can truly solve the problem.

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

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