Many Atlanta residents hold their pets near and dear. In fact, a number of people consider their pets to be their children. As such, pet custody is a very difficult issue for many couples in the event of divorce.
Typically, it is best for those who are going through a divorce to attempt to come to an agreement outside of court regarding this issue. This is because pets are considered property under Georgia law. When divorcing spouses cannot come to an agreement about who will keep a beloved dog or cat, a judge may ultimately decide based on the state’s property division laws.
A judge is unlikely to consider things like the relationships between each party and the pet and the ability of each party to care for the pet. These issues are considered in child custody cases, but judges generally will not consider motions concerning things like this when it comes to pets.
For now, it tends to be wise for divorcing spouses to work with a mediator to come up with decisions or compromises regarding pet ownership post-divorce. Mediators can help facilitate conversations on the subject, which can often result in a reasonable solution.
In the future, perhaps states will implement pet custody laws. In New York, a judge has recently decided to hear a landmark pet custody case. As it stands, New York considers pets to be property and disputes are handled as such, but this particular judge said he will hear the case in a manner similar to that of a child custody case.
The judge says that there is an uptick in divorce-related pet custody disputes in his state, and that the needs of those involved in such cases are not currently being met.
Source: New York Post, “Landmark custody battle over dog in divorce,” Julia Marsh, Dec. 4, 2013