Who Gets To Keep The Dog When There’s A Divorce?

The way pets are viewed in the eye of the law is changing in the United States when it comes to divorce.

According to the Associated Press (AP), special mediators and “petnups” have created new ways to clarify custody of your own dog, cat or parrot in order to avoid disputes in the courtroom. States like California, Illinois, and Alaska have laws in place that give judges leeway to consider pet welfare, much like children do when it comes to divorce.

A bill is pending in New York that takes the same approach. New York attorney Adam Citron has handled dozens of divorces and says pets are “a constant issue”. He’s seen the worst in divorce courts and advocates prenuptial agreements that cover pets. New “petnups” prove helpful for animals that are taken into families during a marriage.

Citron says more laws are needed that take into account the interests of pets, as custody of our pets is much more complicated and emotional to resolve than claims on tangible items like china or wedding silver.

Citron suggests that couples choose a partner’s name that will appear on registration or adoption papers when a pet is added to the family to avoid disputes. He also suggests that the sole owner should pay all costs from a separate bank account.

Some mediators work to resolve pet disputes through joint custody, but some argue that these actions are not in the best interests of certain animals, such as dogs, who need a certain schedule and routine in their daily lives.

Karis Nafte, who has been an animal behavior researcher for almost 26 years, started working as an animal caretaker for couples looking to divorce. She said visiting plans or joint custody of a dog can be far more stressful than saying goodbye forever. Going back and forth between two different houses can lead to behavior problems, she said.

“Part of what I’m trying to explain to people is that even if a dog feels like a child in your heart, it doesn’t, and if you treat him like a child, it actually is Disservice to the dog. “Said. “Having that voice, that kind of knowledgeable view of the situation, calms things down. Often times people just don’t know what to do. They just don’t want to say goodbye to their dog. “

Philip Tedeschi, emeritus director of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver, said that while dogs are still legally considered property, they have emotions that are complex and need to be considered.

“The type of stress placed on a family in connection with a divorce also has implications for the emotional and health lives of animals,” he told the AP. “We are really lagging far behind the realization that non-human animals have emotional lives, have feelings. Even opinions. “

H / T: KXAN