Nearly 1,500 members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers were polled recently regarding pets. About 25 percent of those polled have seen a rise in the number of divorce cases involving which party gets custody of the family pet. As these numbers continue to increase, it may be necessary for state laws, including those here in Utah, to treat pets as more than simple asset division in family law.
People here in Utah and across the country treat their pets as members of the family. However, current law considers them to be property just like furniture or a bank account. As such, most courts will not entertain visitation schedules or other traditional custody issues as they do for children. Even so, the courts will hear evidence to determine whether a pet is separate property or marital property.