We proudly represent clients in Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Tempe & cities throughout Arizona in pet custody & other family law matters.
When going through a divorce, most spouses think about child custody, child support, dividing their property and the like, but many don’t realize they may need to consider custody of their pets too! A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers noted that pet custody cases have been on the rise since 2001. Your pet isn’t just any animal to you, it’s family. One of the more heated issues when going through a divorce is deciding who gets to keep the family pet. For many of us, pets are an important part of the family.
In Arizona and most states, your pets are treated like property. If the pet owners cannot decide between themselves how to share time with the pets, the court will likely award the pet to one spouse, maybe order financial compensation for the other spouse, and be done with it. Rarely will the court fashion a “visitation schedule” unless the parties agree upon one. The judge will likely look to see if one party had the pet before the marriage, or if the pet was a gift to one spouse or the other. The court may look to see who was the pet’s primary caregiver during the marriage.
I have seen the court order a pet visitation schedule if the question of pet custody is intertwined with the question of child custody. Sometimes the court will have the pet travel with the children if there is a close bond between them, the pet was originally obtained for the children, the pet provides security for the children, or some other reason of equal importance.
If you are about to go through a divorce and are thinking about who gets custody of the family pet, I suggest seeking legal guidance from an experienced attorney familiar with Arizona’s pet custody laws. To get started with your initial case evaluation give my office a call at 480-413-9300.