There are many different things for a divorcing couple in Utah to consider, including child custody and asset division. However, if the couple owned a dog prior to the divorce, who gets to keep it? Traditionally, family courts have always considered pets to be personal property and use the same criteria as they would for dividing up other property. In recent years, however, there has been a notable increase in dog custody cases across the U.S., according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Because many couples consider their dogs to be a member of the family, they cannot come to an agreement on who should keep the dog after the divorce. This has led to the growing number of these cases in divorce court. As a result, many judges consider various factors similar to those in child custody cases in order to determine which spouse can offer the best living situation for the dog. It is not unprecedented for judges to award joint custody, visitation rights or financial support for the pet.
Couples who want to avoid the extra time and money of fighting this in court can make this decision themselves based on who has the most time and financial resources to care for the pet. Another factor to consider is which parent spends the most time with the children. Some couples may also base this decision on who has the most space to accommodate the dog.
Deciding who gets to keep a beloved family pet is just one of the many complexities of going through a divorce. Any Utah couple who can negotiate this themselves just needs to submit the agreement on paper. However, it may help to have an experienced mediator who can ensure that everything is complete and legal.
Source: The Huffington Post, Who Gets the Family Dog After Divorce?, Nancy Kay, Nov. 10, 2013