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Who Gets Custody Of The Dog?

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162 – June, 2024

By William Given

She gets the house and the SUV. He gets the boat and minivan. She gets custody of the children. He gets two weekends a month and a few hours on Wednesday evenings for visitation. However, far too often, little or no real thought is given as to who gets the dog. Dividing the acquired marital assets is a necessary task for every couple contemplating a divorce, but the fate of the family’s treasured canine companion needs to be considered with more importance than who gets grandmother’s sterling silver tea service or grandfather’s Black Forest cuckoo clock.

Crowded court calendars have caused the courts to require couples to go to mediation in order to create parenting plans and determine an equitable division of household property and assets. These arrangements save couples money, save time for the courts and allows judges to make these agreements part of the divorce decree.

Like the cuckoo clock and the tea set, the family dog is considered personal property. The dog will not be the beneficiary of a custody determination. However, if a couple can work out an agreement concerning the care and maintenance of the dog, the court will likely enforce it.

If you consider your dog a member of your family, you are not alone. A July 2023 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed 97% of dog owners consider their canine companion a part of the family. Conflicts over the family dog can be just as important to divorcing spouses as any issue when both spouses have developed a special affection for their dog and wish to keep it.

Because of this, a divorce can be particularly devastating for both individuals. This feeling seems to be much more amplified when the couple has no children, and the dog has filled the role of the couple’s “child.” However, unlike real children, for which extensive case law and Judicial precedence exist, the family dog has been greatly disregarded as a crucial concern in a divorce.

A Case of Extremes

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162 – June, 2024

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