Divorce and the Family Pet/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on March 8, 2015

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A recent article appeared on the Family Law Matters Blog, penned by Deborah Hope Wayne, Esq., on divorce and pet custody. How is it decided who gets the family pet when a divorce occurs? Battles centering on pet custody are increasing in our society. Under law, a pet is considered property. But whose property?  Is there a “best interests” test to be applied? How will a judge decide such a contest? The short answer is that a judge will decide this with great difficulty. However, Ms. Wayne has a solution. Place a “pet custody;” section in the pre-nuptial agreement.

Such a decision will save valuable time and money when contested matters enter the divorce picture. Even if a couple has never had a pre-nuptial agreement, or is opposed to having one, a discussion on such a topic (i.e. What would happen with Fido if we ever got divorced) may ward off the “bad will” that can arise when small issues become big issues, in the context of a dissolution of a marriage. The goal, as always, should be placed on respectful discussion and civil discourse. Your pets would not want to have it any other way.

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