Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Pets and Divorce in Monmouth County

According to a national survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, approximately 68 percent of all U.S households own a pet. Many of these pet owners also report that they consider their pets to be part of their family.

While household pets can bring joy and happiness, the increasing inclusiveness of pets as part of the family creates a unique problem in divorce cases in Monmouth County. That is, who gets the pets in a divorce?

If you want to know more about pets and divorce in Monmouth County, speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who can answer your questions, and work with you to build your case.

Pets in a Divorce

When a couple decides to end their relationship, there are often disputes over who will have custody of the children, who gets the house and cars, and how other property will be divided. However, in the past several years there has been a steady increase in disputes centering around the family pet.

A survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that nearly 30 percent of all divorce cases had issues related to pet custody.

Who Keeps the Pet in a Monmouth County Divorce?

New Jersey divorce laws provide established practices and procedures to divide property when a couple divorces. While a couple is free to reach their own private agreement as to how they will divide their property, the divorce laws provide a framework to ensure that property is equitably distributed.

However, there is a problem when it comes to pets and divorce in Monmouth County: there is simply no single law that addresses who gets the family pet, and how the court should determine who gets the pet if there is a dispute.

For example, when a couple has a dispute over custody of their children, the court is guided by the “best interest of the child” which allows the court to weigh a variety of factors in reaching a custody determination. However, there has been no established law in New Jersey that sets a standard for pets.

Factors a Court May Consider

While Monmouth County judges may not have a single law or statute to follow when they are resolving a custody dispute over a pet, generally, judges will be guided by certain factors that will help them determine who will have custody over the family pet.

Time Spent with the Pet A judge may inquire as to which spouse spent the most time with the particular animal. For example, a spouse who took their dog to work with them every day and who almost exclusively cared for the animal is likely to be bonded to the animal and vice versa.   Custody of the Children Many couples will buy a pet for their children, and in a divorce case, the judge may consider who has primary custody of the children when deciding who will have custody of the animal.In Monmouth County, it is far more common for the spouse who has primary custody of the children to also have custody over the family pet.

A divorce can be very traumatic for children, and the courts have recognized that animals and pets can provide a great deal of emotional support to children coping with a divorce.

Care of the Animal

This factor is closely tied with which spouse spent more time with the animal. In cases where one spouse exclusively took care of the animal such as feeding, grooming, taking the animal to the vet, the court is likely to consider the pet’s basic needs.

Another factor a court may consider is whether or not the animal is considered marital property. Some spouses will come into a marriage with an animal, while other couples will buy an animal together. In these cases, the court may look to who brought the animal into the marriage.

Contacting a Monmouth County Divorce Attorney

Many people do not associate pets and divorce in Monmouth County, with each other but, pets can be a contentious part of a divorce. Your pet is an important part of your life, and in a divorce, you may find yourself facing some tough choices about the family pet.

If you are involved in a marital dispute over your dog, cat, fish, or other pet, contact a Monmouth County divorce lawyer. Your legal advocate will help guide you through the difficult divorce process and can help ensure your pets are cared for in a divorce.