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Long Island Family Lawyer > Blog > Property Division > Who Gets The Dog During Divorce?

Who Gets The Dog During Divorce?


Going into a divorce you may understand that you will have to resolve numerous issues, such as child custody and spousal support. However, an issue that is often overlooked is who will receive custody of the pets. People are passionate about their pets, and for good reason. They are viewed as not only pets, but as members of the family.

Historically, the courts treated pets as property during divorce. If one spouse wanted to keep the pet, they would have to give up other assets of equal or greater value. Today, that is not necessarily the case. Today, courts in New York are required to consider the best interests of any companion animal. This is similar to the standard used in child custody cases. Below, our Long Island property division lawyer explains further.

How are Issues Regarding Pets Treated During Divorce?

Technically, pets are still considered property during divorce. Still, they are classified differently than other types of property such as furniture, appliances, and vehicles. In addition to applying the property division laws when making decisions on pets, the court must also consider the emotional well-being of the animal. Many studies have shown that dogs experience human emotions, including sadness, happiness, fear, and grief. Other studies have also shown that cats experience those same emotions.

So, how does the court analyze the well-being of a pet? When the two spouses cannot agree an animal behaviorist, psychologist, or trainer may be brought into the case. If the case goes to trial, this professional can then testify about what is in the best interests of the pet.

Other Factors Considered Regarding Pets During Divorce

There are many factors the court and an animal professional will consider when making decisions about pets in a divorce. These are as follows:

  • Which party is the primary caretaker of the pet?
  • Who ensures the pet has food and is taken for walks?
  • Which party cares for the pet when they are sick or injured, and who takes the animal to the vet?
  • Which party makes sure the pet is groomed?
  • Who is the pet most happy with?
  • If children share a bond with the pet, who will they primarily reside with after the divorce?
  • Who is responsible for primarily paying for the costs associated with the pet?

All of the above factors are considered so the court can determine what is in the best interests of the child. The court will also consider any other factor it deems relevant.

Our Property Division Lawyer in Long Island Can Protect You and Your Pet

If you are going through a divorce and you and your spouse share a pet, our Long Island property division lawyer knows the high emotions that are involved. At the Law Office of Joshua Adam Kittenplan, P.C., our experienced attorney understands the law and can advise on how it applies to your case so you can make informed decisions to obtain the best outcome. Call us now at 631-499-0606 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more.



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