Who Keeps the Dog in a Divorce?

A divorce can be complicated, time-consuming, and stressful for all parties involved. One of the most challenging aspects of the divorce proceeding is the division of jointly-owned assets and this includes pets. As pets are considered personal property, the law doesn’t treat them with the same consideration as it treats children so custody is awarded without much thought. The courts are under no obligation to be fair and just in their decision.

Unfortunately, this can prove to be very painful for the divorcing couples as most consider their dog or pets to be members of their family and not personal property. Arguments over pet custody, visitation rights, and other such factors can extend the duration of divorce negotiations considerably.

Personal property and laws against animal cruelty

Personal property can be harmed, destroyed, and disregarded at any time because owners have an absolute right to it. However, there are laws against animal cruelty designed to ensure pet owners can’t do that. This creates legal conflict and can make divorce cases more difficult. The pet should be awarded to an owner capable of taking care of it and treating it with kindness.

This requires careful examination of the parties involved, their interaction with the pet, ability to support the pet, and concern for the animal. While judges can use their discretion and consider the pet’s interest in such cases, they’re not obligated by law to do so. Fortunately, most judges will consider the pet’s welfare before they award custody and some might even award visitation rights.

Changing attitude

There has been a significant rise in the number of pet custody cases over the years and many activists are working to change the legal perspective on the matter. Alaska was one of the first states to introduce and enact legislation that looks after pet welfare. This legislation gives judges the power to consider the animal’s well-being on matters of custody. Many states are expected to follow this example, which will help ensure pets don’t become trapped in a tug-of-war between owners.

In many cases, people use pets as a tool to exact revenge on their former spouse. Such regulations can help reduce the number of conflicts involving them and ensure the animals don’t suffer. Many animal rights activist groups welcome the changing mindset and even provide advice to divorcing couples on how to handle pet custody arrangements.

Judges will consider the dog’s basic needs

While awarding custody, judges will consider the party’s ability to handle pet care. They first make sure the party has the finances to support a pet and provide a comfortable living environment. The judge will consider which owner has handled the pet’s basic needs and ensured the animal received food, water, shelter exercise etc. They will also check who took the pets to the veterinarian and ensured they had social interaction with other pets and people.

The custody will be awarded to pet owners who can and have fulfilled all the dog care requirements and are focused on their pet’s health.