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The pet custody conundrum

Pet custody is an awkward topic in the world of family law. There are certainly ways for people to address their concerns about the family pet in the wake of a divorce, but the law is often at odds with the emotional attachment many people have with their pets.

More specifically to that last point, the law considers pets to be property. As such, they are subject to property division laws in the process of a divorce. The "owner" of the pet is something that can be argued again and again in court, and it usually ends up being a costly and difficult case to make.

However, some couples are able to set aside their differences and collectively negotiate and construct a pet custody agreement that allows the separating spouses to have their fair share of time with their pet. Having this type of agreement in place prior to going to court is a huge benefit. It shows the judge handling your case that you and your soon-to-be-ex are serious about your pet custody situation, and it could even expedite your divorce.

Laws are changing all across the country, but progress is always slow. The laws that apply to your particular case may be beneficial -- or they may complicate your case.

When pet custody is a question, you need to make sure that you have an experienced attorney on your side. To many families, pets are like their children. Leaving that family member to chance in a divorce is not something you want to do.

Source: Animal Legal & Historical Center, "Custody of Pets in Divorce," Accessed Feb. 25, 2016

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