Who Gets Pet Custody?

Most divorce litigation centers on custody and property division, but what if the two intersect? Pets are considered property in most states, though many pet owners feel like their dog or cat is part of the family. More and more divorcing couples are starting to fight for custody over their companion animals, and before quite recently, it was not clear whether New York divorce courts would treat dogs and cats like children or personal property in a case.

The state of Alaska because the first state to empower judges to consider the well-being of the companion animal in divorce cases and award custody of the pet to one of the divorcing parties. Likewise, several courts in New York have been forced to decide custody in such cases, and they have established criteria for judges to follow.

New York courts have held custody of pets does not equate to child custody and will not be based on the same standard as child custody. However, they will also not be treated as personal property. Instead, to determine custody, New York courts will consider what is “best for all concerned.” When deciding who has custody of the family pet, a judge will look at the following:

  • How the pet was acquired
  • How the pet was cared for during the relationship
  • The arrangement between the parties for spending time with a pet after the divorce

If you are experiencing the end of the relationship when you shared a family pet, talk to our skilled Yonkers divorce attorney about your case as soon as possible. Our attorney strives to create a relationship of trust and communication with each client, so he will handle your case with honesty, respect, and integrity. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at (914) 752-5333 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation today!