Deciding how to handle the custody of a child during a divorce is never easy. When that child is four-legged and wears a fur coat, however, it can be even more difficult to work out the custody issues that may come up between parents.
You see, even though many owners consider their dog or cat part of the family, the judges in Michigan prefer not rule on pet custody cases. Instead, a pet is considered part of a couple’s property and is treated as part of the asset division.
Apparently that hasn’t stopped divorcing couples from arguing about who their beloved animal should live with, however. The Oakland Press reports that the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers states that a quarter of family law attorneys have been involved in a pet custody dispute.
Interestingly, even though a judge is unlikely to grant joint custody, there are some things you can do when approaching a resolution to who your furry family member should live with. If the divorce is amicable, you can decide on a custody arrangement on your own or have a mediator work out a custody plan while you attend divorce mediation. If your future ex-spouse is not willing to work out an amicable solution, you may be able to have the judge grant you ownership of your pet as your property by showing that you were the primary caregiver for your pet or that you were the one who initially adopted the animal and brought it into the family.
Pet owners who are facing divorce may have valuable legal rights and could find it beneficial to discuss their situation with an experienced Michigan divorce attorney.
Source: Animal Legal Defense Fund, “What to do if you are involved in a custody battle over your companion animal,” accessed March. 26, 2015