You may think of your dog as your fur child, but California law would not agree. In regards to the law, they are really no different than the precious items or the home. But in more and more homes in California, splitting the pets can get pretty contentious. When you put all of your expenses together, it is no wonder that we are beginning to see a higher number of custody battles involving companion animals.
In the mid-90s, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals overturned a decision of the trial court that granted Kathryn Bennett visits with her family dog Roddy. The dog was an asset before marriage and belonged to her ex-husband, Ronald Greg Bennett, who was then awarded custody, while his ex-wife was only given visits with Roddy every other weekend and every other Christmas holiday. Ms. Bennett went back to court contending that her ex-husband was not compliant with the visitation the court had ordered.
But instead of applying her rights as a dog parent, the appeals court denied that they even existed. Pets must be awarded pursuant to the dictates of equitable distribution statute.
This ruling goes on to say that determinations as to custody and visitation will lead to continuing enforcement and supervision problems. The courts were overwhelmed with the supervision of visitation, custody and support matters related to the protection of children. They could not undertake the same responsibility as to animals.
When a judge chooses who should get the cat or dog, these factors as who spends more time with the pet, who cares for it and takes it to the vet and who brought it into the relationship in the first place needs to be considered.
Divorcing couples who quarrel over their pets might not be dealing with an underlying issue. An ex who takes his or her former spouse to court over and over in regards to visiting the dog or paying veterinary bills probably is not as concerned about the dog as he or she is about controlling an ex-husband or ex-wife. In a case of divorce, the dog or cat might become a symbol of power and control and might be seen as the one entity that still loves me unconditionally.
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The legal battles that involve pets can be a large emotional investment with an uncertain outcome that can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The divorce also takes a toll on the animal. A once energetic pet might become depressed, He or she might sleep more, consume food less and lose interest in activities such as walking and playing with his owner. He or she might start having accidents in the house or grooming himself excessively.
You should decide what is best for your pet. Put your own feelings aside to get to that decision. You will need to consider such factors as who fed and cared for them before the divorce and who can afford to pay for their veterinary care and other expenses.
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Courtesy of Cuselleration