Pets are Family too- What Happens in a Divorce?

It is common to hear about soon to be ex-spouses fighting over custody of their children, but it is much less common to hear about a couple fighting for legal custody of their shared pets. Pet custody battles, however, do happen and are actually on the rise. According to a story in USA Today, in a survey conducted in 2006, one fourth of the attorneys who responded to the survey believed that pet custody cases had substantially increased in a five year period.

A battle over who has custody over a pet is quite different than a battle over custody of children. The laws in all states view pets as property, and of course, children are not viewed as property under the law. When there are children involved, it is common for judges to award custody over the pet to the parent who has custody over the child. On the other hand, when there are no children involved, the award of custody over the pet becomes more like a property split – as if the pet were a house or a vehicle.

Times are changing though, and some courts are starting to recognize that pets are not simply a piece of property like a sofa, and are considering owners’ emotional attachments to the pet in awarding custody. Currently, states do not have statutes that address pet custody battles. It’s become a legal gray area; splitting couples are left to determine pet visitation rules on their own, or with the help of a caring and experienced divorce attorney.

If you anticipating that you may need a divorce attorney in the Chicagoland area, then you should contact a knowledgeable family law and divorce lawyer. Contact the compassionate divorce attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates today for sound legal advice from a lawyer with your best interests at heart.

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