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News & Articles

Osborne Morris & Morgan > News and Articles > Family > Custody cases over pets becoming more frequent

Custody cases over pets becoming more frequent

Posted on 22 Mar 2016, in Family

While custody battles over children are not uncommon, a survey by a U.S. legal association has brought to light an increase in the number of custody battles that centre around the family pet. Dog owners in Bedfordshire may appreciate the emotional attachment that develops for the family pet, and one explanation for the increase in pet custody cases tied to a divorce is the growing number of couples who decide not to have children but who chose to buy pets.

In a survey carried out by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than a quarter of lawyers reported that they had seen an increase in custody cases that involved pets. The types of animals included snakes, parrots and turtles, but by far the most common was the dog. Over 80 per cent of pet custody cases were fought over the family dog and some separated couples went to extreme lengths to maintain contact with their pet.

One couple in the U.S. were in mediation for years over their beagle, which they had owned since it was a puppy. The husband, a software engineer, and his beauty consultant wife had both felt a strong emotional bond with it. After the couple divorced, even thought they lived on opposite sides of the country, they nonetheless came to the agreement that their dog would spend half the year with each of them.

The financial arrangements in a custody situation take into consideration the earnings of both ex-partners. In the case of the couple with the beagle, as the higher earner, the husband was responsible for the majority of the costs associated with the pet’s transportation from coast to coast and for its care. A solicitor familiar with custody issues may offer legal advice and mediation services for a client involved in a similar type of matter in order to reach the desired outcome.


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