For a multitude of reasons, it can easily be said that our pets have gone from a place where they were once accessory companions to where they are now integral parts of our families. People view their dogs not just as their pets, but as if they are their children. And where a dog’s “people” may love them forever, the people may not actually love each other the same way. So where does that leave your precious pet when you decide on divorce?
While Courts have customarily taken the cold position that an animal is a piece of property to be dealt with as a part of asset distribution in a divorce matter, there is an interesting shift in cases where judges are giving man’s best friend a bit more credit than being treated like a piece of furniture. Judges have begun to apply a “best for all concerned” standard. This standard considers several factors, only one of which is who paid for the pet, which the Court’s seemed to consider the least when making a determination. In one such case, the Court considered who was responsible for meeting the pet’s needs, who spent more time with the pet on a regular basis, who does the animal share a bond with, etc.
The Courts have not gone as far as to apply the lengthy and involved process they would for a child custody matter, but none the less, it is certainly come a long way from suggesting selling the animal and splitting the proceeds like a valuable piece of artwork.