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How are pets considered in New York divorce cases?

When it comes to custody battles, most people think about what will serve the best interests of the children involved. There are, however, more cases popping up involving pet custody as opposed to child custody. As many couples consider their pets as beloved members of the family, determining who gets to keep access to the family pet in New York divorce cases can require a fair amount of negotiation in order to create a plan that is sufficient for both parties, and keeps the best interests of the animal in mind.

Pets are, unfortunately, considered property in divorce cases. As such, their fate is typically determined upon which spouse can show ownership before marriage, who provided care during marriage and who can provide proper care post-divorce. For some, this type of arrangement is fine, but in other situations, where both spouses may have an equal bond with their pet, granting ownership to just one individual may not create ideal circumstances.

In the past few years, there has been an increase in couples requesting shared custody of pets as part of their divorce arrangement. Courts may or may not take part in setting up this type of custody deal. If a court order grants ownership of the pet to just one individual, it may be possible to negotiate custody arrangements outside of court that both parties feels are fair.

Divorce can bring about a lot of difficult subjects that require care and attention to detail. As pets form strong relationships with their owners, determining a care and custody plan that keeps the best interest of the pet in mind is, understandably, an important consideration. Couples in New York that have decided to proceed with a divorce can successfully negotiate pet custody terms, which can vary from equal shared custody time or arranging vis itation schedules. If having continued access to the family pet post-divorce is desired, it is certainly possible to negotiate terms that are satisfactory for everyone involved.

Source: Parade, “In a Divorce, Who Gets the Pets?”, Michele C. Hollow, Aug. 18, 2014

Source: Parade, “In a Divorce, Who Gets the Pets?”, Michele C. Hollow, Aug. 18, 2014

Important Information

COVID-19 (Novel Corona Virus)  Update 3-20-2020

By order of Governor Andrew Cuomo, beginning 3-22-2020, all non-essential business in New York state must close their physical offices in response to the rapid rate of positive reported cases of COVID-19 in New York State.

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Larkin, Ingrassia & Tepermayster, LLP


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