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.