Who Gets the Dog in a Divorce?
March 15, 2023

For a marriage, divorce means the end. Yet, at the same time, it’s the start of a significant and multifaceted transition. The lives of married couples are deeply interwoven, so naturally, there’s much to address in their ultimate division and its aftermath.

For many, the importance of their pets’ care cannot be overstated. So, it’s not surprising that the issue of custody of animal companions is a growing point of contention in divorce cases.

So, who gets the dog in a divorce where differences can’t be reconciled? Certain factors must be considered.

Personal Property

They feel like cherished family members, but legally, animals are personal property. As cold as it may sound, this is how it’s viewed from the court’s perspective.

Some recent divorce cases have made greater considerations for pet outcomes, assessing factors like proof of purchase, provision of licensing and training, payment of expenses, and future care and home quality.

Still, no universal standard for pet custody exists, so the arrangements fall to the owners. This process can be emotional and messy and is best handled with the assistance of experienced, qualified legal representation or mediation.

A Challenging Time

Divorce is a difficult process, so the value of having beloved pets nearby during the healing time that follows can be immeasurable. Especially for families, the topic of pets’ post-divorce home can be especially stressful.

In some cases, the animal can be legally certified for emotional support to vouch for one owner’s unique need to keep it. Get in touch with a divorce lawyer near Harrisburg, PA, to learn more.

Strategize for Success

Judges are hesitant to rule on pet custody and are even less likely to address visitation or consider joint arrangements for animals. Because judges’ rulings are legally binding, it’s essential to have a carefully laid out and proactive plan going in.

Discussing potential approaches with a knowledgeable lawyer before and during negotiations can increase the odds of efficiency and success. A thorough agreement drafted with your Harrisburg, PA divorce lawyer can help determine how the animals’ health, visitation rights, care costs, and ultimately, remains, will be dealt with in ways both parties find satisfactory.

Establishing amicable terms with an agreed-upon division of duties is best handled outside the courtroom. Mediation can sometimes be a useful option as court decisions will govern the future for all involved. Appealing or suing after the fact may be possible, but victory is not probable, making a skilled legal team even more important.

Leave Nothing To Chance

Given the complexity and heartache associated with divorce, additional stress should be reduced whenever possible. A compassionate, understanding legal team is key when dealing with the various sensitive topics involved.

Divvying up the pet duties can be complicated and challenging, but having a caring, skilled lawyer in your corner makes the burden manageable.

If you live in the Harrisburg area and are facing divorce, reach out to the legal team at Daley Zucker LLC.

Contact Us