Pet Custody and Pet Support After a Divorce


At one time, couples filing for a Pasadena divorce could expect pets to be treated like marital property in the divorce settlement. Until recently, the question of who gets to keep the pets after a divorce was settled much like deciding who gets the dining room table or the flat screen TV in the living room. But as more people begin to truly view their animal companions as members of the family, pet custody cases are becoming a big divorce issue.

In the debate over cats vs. dogs, it appears that dogs are winning. Lawyers report that 90% of pet custody cases involve dogs. Battles over the family pet are more common when a couple does not have children together, but people from a variety of backgrounds have been known to fight for their beloved pets during a divorce. Some of the most interesting cases involve celebrities, who have access to the resources needed to pay for extensive court battles. Singer Britney Spears fought for custody of her two dogs after losing custody of her two children to ex-husband Kevin Federline. Ownership of the family dogs was said to be a major sticking point in the divorce negotiations between Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren as well.

Pet custody can involve giving sole custody to one person, have the couple share joint custody, or giving one person primary custody and having the other granted visitation rights. Who pays for expenses for the animal is another factor to consider as well, especially if the case involves older pets with serious medical conditions. Pet ownership comes at a financial cost, which may or may not be feasible in your post-divorce budget.

Pet support, sometimes referred to in the media as "petimony", is rare. If this is something you're interested in pursuing, you'll need to ask your Pasadena divorce attorney for additional information.