Who gets to keep the pet after a divorce in New York?

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pet with owner

In today’s society, pets are typically considered important parts of the family. Research shows that more than 50% of American households include pets such as dogs and cats. That being said when divorcing, couples often face hotly contested pet custody disputes. For many married couples, their pets are like children. Although you may consider your pet a member of your family, the law may view your family pets as part of marital property. In some states, pets are considered personal property and are subject to equitable distribution. However, in recent years, the courts have changed the way they handle pet custody. In a divorce, if you want to keep the pet, you may need to get the other party to agree to this arrangement, or you will have to otherwise convince the court why it is in the pet’s best interests to be with you after the divorce. Keep reading to learn more about pet custody and discover how a seasoned Suffolk County Divorce & Separation Attorney can help you.

How is pet custody handled in a New York divorce?

In New York, pets are no longer considered just another piece of property to be divided between divorcing couples. Instead, pet custody is handled a lot like child custody. Beforehand, no consideration was given to the pet’s needs. However, now pet custody laws protect the animal’s best interests. The laws consider companion animals as dogs, cats, or other domesticated animals that are cared for by an owner. The law does not consider the best interests of farm animals. Under pet custody laws, the court must consider the best interests of the animal, whether the owners have committed animal cruelty, and any other pertinent factors to determine who should keep the family pet in a divorce.

How can I improve my chances of obtaining custody?

If you are seeking custody of your pet you can increase the odds of a judge ruling in your favor by showing evidence that you are dedicated to being a good pet owner. You should provide the court with extensive documentation to improve your chances of getting custody. This can include any veterinary records that reflect that you took the animal to the vet the majority of the time. You can also provide a schedule or calendar showing the occasions you took the pet to daycare, for grooming, or for walks. Additionally, it is beneficial to take photos and videos of you with your pet to show that you are an active part of their life. If you have children, it is important to show the relationship and attachment your children have with the pet. Generally, courts will try to keep children and pets in the same household. Ultimately, you want to demonstrate to the court the relationship you have with the pet.

If you are seeking custody of your pet, you need a determined Suffolk County divorce and separation attorney on your side. Our firm is prepared to help you gather pertinent evidence that proves it is in your pet’s best interest to stay with you after a divorce.


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What Our Clients Are Saying

I hired Susan to represent me in a divorce matter where I was fighting for custody and to limit my wife's equitable share of our assets. I won custody of our son, kept the marital residence, kept my professional practice, kept my building and paid less than half to my wife. This was after a long-term marriage. She could persuade the court that equitable is not equal and sometimes the man does deserve to win!

‐ Dave

I first must say that I had been represented by two prior attorneys both of whom had simply taken my money and left me nothing to show for it in my custody case. They kept telling me what they were doing for me but I found out they were lying. Susan on the other hand had gotten me temporary custody and support for my children and myself within two months of hiring her. I cannot say enough about her.

‐ Craig

After talking to a few other attorneys, I hired Susan to represent me in my divorce and custody dispute. I was reluctant to go with her because she was the cheapest out of all the other attorneys I met with, but I'm so glad I did. I am 100% positive no one else would have done such a great job with my case as Susan and her staff. Her work is quality, her staff is reliable and her character is honorable. There...

‐ Linda

I had a very difficult case where I had already burned through two attorneys who were unable to get me custody of my children and complete my divorce. Susan was able to rapidly work out an agreement and not let it just malinger on like my previous experiences. She was also considerate of my financial situation unlike all of the other lawyers I had spoken to. I highly recommend her if you want complete and caring service with an in-depth knowledge of...

‐ Joanne


The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. proudly serves clients throughout Suffolk County, New York in their divorce, family law, and estate planning matters. If you require the services of an experienced Suffolk County attorney, schedule a consultation with The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. today.

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