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ANNOUNCEMENT: We are dedicated to your legal needs and available during this difficult time. In order to do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we are offering virtual consultations for both new and existing clients upon request. Click HERE to contact us and request a consultation by video, telephone or in person.

Your pet: beloved companion or mere property in a NY divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2021 | Family Law |

Here’s a winner-takes-all question you would love to be asked as a game show contestant: Do Americans love their pets?

The answer to that is obviously clear, of course. Whether dog, cat, horse or virtually any other cared-for animal interacting with family members, a pet is routinely far more than a mere household appendage.

Indeed, Sparky or Precious or Annie or Claire (you know the A-Z drill, which, yes, includes names like Bowser, Lassie and Muffin as well) is commonly anything but an after-the-thought animal hanging around the house.

In fact, individuals and families in New York and spanning the country lavish attention on their pets. The pet industry in the United States is an incomprehensibly large commercial sphere.

And participants in that realm – ranging from veterinarians and groomers to dog walkers and trainers – hardly hurt for business.

It can scarcely be surprising, then, that many individuals are often willing to go to the proverbial mat when their cherished relationship with a pet is threatened.

Take divorce, for instance. Increasingly, dissolution-tied spats nationally feature dueling spousal perspectives on who should get the family pet.

How do New York courts handle that?

Historically, state family law judges have narrowly perceived pets as property divisible in divorce, in much the manner of a couch or car.

That judicial sentiment has morphed somewhat over the years, though. An in-depth article addressing New York pet custody disputes duly notes “a recent shift in the law and legal perspective.”

That mindset acknowledges that pets, while not being kids, are also not sticks of furniture. An experienced divorce attorney can present persuasive custody arguments that speak to the best interests of all involved parties in a pet dispute. That commonly includes mom, dad, the kids and, yes, Fido himself.

A proven divorce legal team can provide further information.