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The majority of American households have at least one pet. When a married couple decides to divorce, what happens to the pets? Many times, the issue does not reach a conclusion without conflict. In some cases, it requires intervention of the court to solve the problem.

According to the reports from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), pet custody disputes are on the rise. Dogs are the animal disputed most often, while cats are second. Many people consider pets as part of the family, which is why custody of pets is a focal point of some divorce cases, especially in couples without children. In some cases, your ex-spouse may know about your strong emotional connection, so they attempt to use it against you.

In the eyes of the law, your pet is considered personal property. For this reason, you can utilize a prenuptial agreement before marriage to ensure your pet remains your property. If it is too late for a prenuptial, consider provisions for your pet in a post-nuptial agreement or written contract. If necessary, you can even create a visitation and custody schedule much like a Parenting Plan.

ISSUES TO CONSIDER:
• WHO DOES THE PET BELONG TO?
When pets belong to either spouse before a marriage, the case becomes much clearer. Additionally, a court will ask who cares for the pet? Those who buy the pet food and take their pet to the veterinarian or groomer have higher chances of succeeding in a court battle.

• WHERE WILL THE CHILDREN LIVE?
When there are children, in many cases, it is best if the pet lives with the kids. Children have a hard enough time with divorce, without losing their pet as well. With shared custody of the children, the custody of the animal can be shared as well. However, understand that some breeds of animals need a more consistent schedule than others, so it may be necessary to keep a strict schedule.

• WHO HAS A LIFE BETTER SUITED TO PET OWNERSHIP?
The final question courts may ask is who can take care of the pet more easily? The person who works long hours and travels often will be less likely to provide a good environment for a pet. A person who truly cares about the well-being of the pet should consider where the pet will be better suited to live.

For A Free Consultation Contact: Ryan K McFarland • attorneymcfarland@gmail.com 1 (​931) 516-9009



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