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How pet custody is determined during a divorce

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2023 | Divorce

According to the results of a survey by the Pew Research Center, 97% of pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family. When this view carries over into a divorce, it is up to the court to decide who the animals should live with.

When relationships end in divorce, deciding who gets custody of the family pet can be as contentious as child custody battles. To reach the most favorable resolution, the court takes into account a range of factors before making a decision.

Pet’s well-being

In Lake County, the primary consideration in determining pet custody is the best interests of the animal. Courts prioritize the pet’s physical and emotional well-being above all else. Judges will evaluate circumstances, such as who has been the primary caregiver, the pet’s attachment to each party and the living arrangements of the individuals seeking custody.

Ownership and acquisition

Another important aspect of pet custody cases is the question of ownership and acquisition. If one party can prove that they legally acquired the pet before the relationship began, they may have a stronger claim to custody. However, if both parties obtained the pet jointly during the relationship, the matter becomes more complex. In cases like this, courts may look at factors such as financial responsibility, veterinary care and daily care responsibilities to determine the primary caregiver.

Pet custody agreements

Many parties choose to avoid the emotional turmoil of a court battle by entering into pet custody agreements. These documents allow both parties to outline their expectations and responsibilities regarding the pet’s care, visitation schedules and any financial contributions. Courts often uphold these arrangements as long as they are in the best interests of the pet.

Pet custody decisions require the utmost care and consideration. While emotional ties between owners and their pets can make this process challenging, the welfare of the pet is always the court’s foremost concern.