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The Break-Up: Who Gets The Pets?

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young couple fighting

When couples split, custody of family pets is becoming an increasingly larger issue.

Although these cases can be quite heated, the parties involved are usually genuinely concerned about the welfare of the pet.  Points to consider when deciding custody include:

  • Age of the pet (Does it make sense to uproot the animal and force them to adjust to a new home?)
  • Separation from friend-animals (would loss of animal friends impact the pet’s quality of life?)
  • Stress of long-distance travel (will the animal be forced to travel a long distance to the new home?)
  • Any breed-specific statues at new location (are there any breed-specific laws in the new location that could impact the pet’s relocation?)

Shared custody or visiting arrangements can be defined if both parties are willing to negotiate.

For cases involving domestic abuse, some states have passed legislation to include pets in restraining orders and remove them from abusive homes when victims are moved to a safe home.  When safe homes don’t allow pets, animal shelters are often called to provide temporary housing.

In states without legislation to protect pets in domestic abuse situations, attorneys can pursue adding pets as family members to restraining orders.  Many courts honor this request to protect pets if just cause can be shown.



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