DIVORCE: WHAT HAPPENS TO MY PETS?
Most pet owners consider their dogs and cats to be “fur babies” who deserve the same love and attention given to children. In a divorce, though, pets are not treated as kids. They are considered to be property, and custody laws don’t apply.
Even if divorcing couples reach an agreement about how they intend to share “custody” or “visitation” with pets, it may not be enforceable. Parenting plans and custody agreements are strictly for children, and pets are seen as possessions.
In the case of DeSanctis v. Pritchard , No. 2990 EDA 2001 (Pa. Super. Ct. July 5, 2002), the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the agreement of the parties which was intended to give shared custody of the dog to ex-spouses was not enforceable. Instead, parties are required to treat their pets as assets to be divided, like furniture and bank accounts.
Even if it doesn’t seem quite right, consider your pets to be marital property and decide whether they should remain in your possession after the divorce is finalized. The home in which the pet will live and the spouse with financial responsibility for the pet may be contributing factors in the Court’s decision about who will keep it.
Questions about custody, equitable distribution of property and other family law issues can be answered by consulting with an attorney at The Mazza Law Group, P.C. Call for an appointment if to learn more.