What happens to the family pet when parties decide to break the bonds of marriage? In a recent article from Yahoo! News, this issue was touched on, the conclusion? When dealing with family pets, parties to a divorce are left to their own devices regarding how family pets will be dealt with due to the fact that family pets are treated like any other piece of property. The full article from Yahoo! News can be found here.
Much of the article and the information regarding this issue came from a series of interviews done with family law or matrimonial attorneys. The article began by citing to the fact that in 2006 survey, the 1,600-member American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a quarter of respondents to a member conducted survey stated that pet custody cases had increased noticeably since 2001. What has caused the increase in pet-custody? Some experts believe that breakups in same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships have caused the increase. But, the question remains, how are family pets dealt with when their respective “parents” are going through a divorce? In reality, pets are considered to be property in every state in these United States and therefore, when dealing with family pets, the parties to a divorce were often left to consider their family pets in the same manner as they would household furniture. But, in practice, stated a Ken Altshuler an attorney from Maine, “Judges are viewing them more akin to children than dining room sets. They are recognizing that people have an emotional attachment to their pets.”
But, due to the fact that there are no laws recognizing the legal standing of pets in a divorce, the divorcing parties are left to work out what to do with their pets on their own. The article then mentioned the pet custody arrangement of two individuals who were able to, in the end, work out shared custody, long-distance visitation and the process of introduction of their once family pets of new pets for their 8-year-old Daschund, Dailey. The couple had even to an agreement for a plan for their shared pet that included a daily plan, a vacation and holiday schedule, travel arrangements, doggie daycare, boarding, food, treats, grooming, vet care, moving and end-of-life decisions.
Clearly, as time is moving forward and the fact that family pets are becoming increasingly common, couples are likely going to have to come to such agreements regarding family pets. With the assistance of a competent Florida Family Law attorney hopefully this process can be made easier for all those involved.