Long Island Family Attorney

Pets and Divorce

Having a pet as part of your family creates a type of loving relationship similar to that of having a child.  These days, animals have become increasingly more important and surprisingly more humanlike. They have clothing lines, social media accounts, and even jobs to help us, humans. However, just like children, in a divorce, they can create an intense custody battle.  Although the divorcees may see it that way, the government does not. While statistics say 50% of marriages end in divorce, many of these families have an animal residing in their home.

The government sees animals as personal property, even though some people may see them as a part of the family.  If the animal is owned by one party prior to the marriage, they can be included in a prenuptial agreement, meaning that said party keeps them after the divorce. If this is not the case, there is a postnuptial agreement that can be drafted during the separation. At this point, the animal is treated just like everything else such as the house, cars, and other physical assets.  

Unfortunately- like other assets- one partner can use it to force the other’s hand, knowing how much they each care about the pet. This brings up a lot of questions and factors. Each partner must go back and recount who cared for the animal more. They must agree on who most often brought them to the vet, bought its food, and spent more time with the pet. Divorcees will also ultimately have to decide which partner is better equipped to care for them in the future.

The court usually determines the animal’s custody is granted to the parent who will be with the children more, for their sake. In recent times, the courts have been adapting to the couple’s arguments regarding pet ownership. A well informed and up to date divorce lawyer would advise their party on how to win sole custody of pets. Serving both Nassau and Suffolk County, Simonetti and Associates are highly experienced in custody battles such as this one. Contact our office in Woodbury, New York to schedule a consultation today.