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Bucks County Divorce Attorneys > Blog > Divorce > Divorce and the Legal Classification of Pets

Divorce and the Legal Classification of Pets


When spouses are animal lovers, a common area of contention during the divorce process is who will have custody of beloved pets once a marriage has officially ended. Of course, many get emotional when they think about their dogs, cats, or other pets living in another household, so deciding who will take over pet responsibilities can be a sensitive and complex matter.

To learn more about how Pennsylvania and New Jersey handle pet custody, have a conversation with a Bucks County family attorney. A skilled lawyer can walk you through what to expect from a legal perspective and share with you how negotiation or mediation could play a crucial role in resolving disputes over pet ownership.

Factors Influencing Pet Custody

While many consider pets as cherished members of the family, when it comes to divorce laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey animals are viewed as property. This means that pets are subject to equitable distribution when a divorce is pursued, much like other assets and possessions acquired during a marriage.

That said, it is well understood that when it comes to family pets there are often emotional attachments to consider. Ideally, the spouses can come to an understanding through negotiation If a pet dispute goes to court, a court will consider various factors such as who is the animal’s primary caregiver and if one party is in a better position to financially provide for the pet’s care.

Negotiation can be invaluable tools in reaching amicable resolutions. Spouses then have the flexibility to craft unique agreements that reflect the specific needs and preferences of both parties, as well as the well-being of the pet. For some, this could even include a time sharing agreement, so while one person will assume primary ownership, the other party can spend time with the animal on a set schedule.

Facilitated by a neutral third party, mediation provides a structured and collaborative environment for spouses to communicate and reach a consensus. Whether you decide to have a negotiation process with the support of your attorney or you want to explore mediation, know that both methods empower individuals to maintain a sense of control over outcomes, fostering cooperation rather than contention.

Drafting a Custody Agreement

To avoid potential conflicts and uncertainties in the future, spouses can opt to create a formal pet custody agreement. This document outlines the specifics of pet ownership, visitation schedules, financial responsibilities, and any other relevant details. By proactively addressing these matters, couples can minimize the likelihood of future disputes.

Share your ideal pet dispute resolution method, whether it is through negotiation, mediation, or the creation of a comprehensive pet custody agreement, with a dedicated Bucks County family attorney. When you have a professional on your side they can provide you with guidance on how to ensure the best possible outcome for all parties involved, human and furry alike.

Are you a dog or cat owner? When divorcing, family pet ownership will need to be reviewed. Chat with the legal team at Kardos, Rickles & Hand about your desired outcome. Call 215-968-6602 to schedule your consultation today.

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