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Who gets pet 'custody' in Pennsylvania divorce?

Divorce can be a time of emotional turmoil, and Pennsylvania spouses can sometimes react to stress in ways that are both irrational and nonproductive, which is natural. Unfortunately, the result can be a breakdown in negotiations over the details of property division. One issue that can cause a great deal of contention is where the family pets will live following the divorce.

Spouses should understand that family court judges treat pets in the same manner as personal property during divorce. There are no special stipulations that concern how pet ownership is to be awarded, and many judges even refuse to address the issue at all. It is entirely possible that a couple who asks a judge to decide the fate of Fido will simply be told to work the issue out among themselves.

Spouses should understand that family court judges treat pets in the same manner as personal property during divorce. There are no special stipulations that concern how pet ownership is to be awarded, and many judges even refuse to address the issue at all. It is entirely possible that a couple who asks a judge to decide the fate of Fido will simply be told to work the issue out among themselves.

When negotiating the permanent placement of shared pets, it is important to try to place the needs of the pets above the interests of the spouses. In many cases, one spouse will be better able to provide for the pet's needs. This person may have more room for the animal, or be available to care for the pet on a more regular basis.

When it comes to pet ownership, Pennsylvania spouses should be prepared to negotiate in the same manner as they would over the furniture or any other family property. As with almost any divorce issue, concerns over pet ownership are best handled between the parties outside of a courtroom. However, if it becomes clear that a resolution is not on the horizon, it may be possible to ask the court to make a determination. Before doing so, all parties would be wise to gain an understanding of how their family court judge has handled such issues in the past, as well as all statutes regarding property division.

Source: DL-Online.com, "After a divorce or break-up, what happens to the pet?" Pamela Knudson, Oct. 23, 2012

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