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Pets aren't children, so how can we share custody after divorce?

For many individuals in Georgia, divorce requires compromise. There is rarely ever a spouse who will get everything he or she wants and it is important to remember that both husbands and wives will need to give and take before they appear before a Marietta family court judge. One of the more contentious battles couples will be dealing with is how to share custody of a pet.

For most pet parents, a divorce will raise serious questions about who has access to the dog or who is going to pay for the cat's vet bill, among others surrounding pet ownership. It is true that some people will be happy to give an ex full and complete custody of a pet, but more and more Georgia pet owners are looking for ways to share custody and visitation.

The problem is, however, that many states consider pets to be property, not individual animals that can be the subjects of custodial decisions. If a pet is property, a judge may refuse to order spouses to share responsibility and time with the pet. Sometimes he or she may even throw out agreements that individuals and their divorce lawyers make, reminding the parties that pets are property.

There is more of a consciousness around shared custody of pets, but until courts recognize it, divorcing couples may need to work out agreements outside of the courts. If a relationship is so strained that exes are unable to come up with an agreement on their own, they may rely heavily on family law attorneys to ensure that a reasonable and fair pet custody agreement is crafted.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Pet Custody," Henry Gornbein, Oct. 23, 2012

Look for more information on dividing marital property on our division of property and debts page.

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law
506 Roswell Street SE, Suite 240
Marietta, GA 30060

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