Facing Divorce? See what steps you can take to protect what's yours.
Divorce Home » Child Custody

Pet Custody


More divorces now include couples fighting for pet custody. Typically, child custody and child visitation laws apply to children. Pets are regarded by most divorce courts as marital property and treated more like furniture than children.

No matter how the divorce courts look at pets, you and your family may consider your pet as another member of your family. Who gets pet custody can be just as important as other decisions made during the divorce process. Since pet custody isn't necessarily decided by divorce courts, a local divorce lawyer can help you and your spouse negotiate pet custody.

If one spouse owned the pet prior to the marriage or has been the primary caretaker, he or she may be more likely to be awarded ownership of the pet. When a pet belongs to a child, the parent with primary physical child custody may be allowed to keep the pet if it's in the best interest of the child.

While most courts don't award pet custody and visitation, couples may negotiate about what's best for the animal and family. Many couples regard pets as members of the family and want to protect the well-being of the animals after divorce. Some pet owners may include pet ownership in the terms of a prenuptial agreement in order to avoid pet custody disputes in the event of divorce.

Civil Pet Custody Disputes

In a pet custody dispute between two people who are not divorcing, one party may bring a civil action against the other for the return or possession rights of the animal. Civil pet custody disputes generally arise between former roommates. In pet custody disputes, civil courts may use criteria similar to child custody considerations to determine who should have ownership of an animal.

Speak to a Divorce Attorney about Pet Custody

If you have concerns about pet custody and visitation, a local divorce lawyer can explain the laws in your state and how divorce courts may handle pet custody disputes. Pets are a part of your family and losing a companion is difficult. Work to protect your pet by speaking to a divorce attorney near you. Set up a preliminary consultation today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form.

Case Evaluation

The above synopsis of animal custody is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to provide legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these types of laws, please contact a local family law attorney in your area.