Protecting Your Right to Pet Custody

Don’t lose your pet in a divorce

The number of pet custody cases that cross our desks have grown immensely in recent years, and it’s no local trend. All over the States, custody battles are being fought over our furry friends, and if you’re an animal lover you want to do everything possible to stay on the winning side of yours.

Not sure what you can do? Start out with these suggestions, from an Animal Legal Defense Fund blog post:

If you are involved in a custody dispute, or if such a dispute is likely, it is suggested that you seek the counsel of an attorney who can advise you as to a strategic approach for a resolution that serves the best interests of the animal concerned.

Since animals are considered property in the eyes of the law, it may be helpful to offer proof that you were the one who adopted the animal, or if the animal was purchased, that you were the one who purchased the animal.

If you were not the one who originally brought the animal home, do not give up. There are other ways that may be helpful in substantiating your claims of being primary caregiver of the animal and thus the one who should be awarded custody, despite the fact that you did not adopt or purchase the animal. Information that may help to validate your claims as primary caregiver would be receipts for veterinary care, licensing records, receipts for grooming, dog training classes, food, and other items purchased for the companion animal.

If your neighbors saw that you were always the one who walked your dog or took him/her to the park, they may be useful witnesses who can confirm your consistent interaction with the animal and therefore be helpful to your case.

Although animals are considered property in the eyes of the law at this time, some courts are beginning to recognize that one’s relationship with this particular form of property known as the family cat, dog, bird etc., is much different from one’s relationship with other forms of property such as your couch, your watch or your coffee pot.

As you can see, the better the records you’re able to keep, and the more allies you can bring to bear, the stronger your case will be. Don’t lose your favorite companion, be prepared when it comes to pet custody!