Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pets & Divorce

Who gets the family pet is an important topic to NJ divorcing couples. Although pet owners develop strong bonds with their pets, referring to them as their “babies”, N.J. judges are reluctant to deal with the custody of the pets. Often, judges felt it was a waste of court time and would not entertain the notion of hearing arguments of who better cared for the family dog. NJ Courts have traditionally considered pets as property and as such, they were only worth the value of economic replacement, similar to replacing a television or other object. However, in a divorce decision this year, the appellate court while still considering a pet as property likened the family dog to possible family heirloom status, whereby money can’t replace the full sentimental value attached to the pet. What this means is that the trial court will now have to deal with the family pet issue, but divorcing couples should not expect the court to consider custody issues. Rather, the NJ divorce court may value the pet greater than its simple economic value or force one person to give up the pet if the couple had a prior agreement. Couples can amicably resolve the pet issue along with other issues by divorce mediation rather than costly divorce litigation. At Montclair Divorce Mediation, couples discuss the various aspects of whether joint shared pet custody is best for them, the specific time sharing arrangements and costs are then incorporated into their divorce settlement agreement. The more that couples can agree on outside of court, the better it is for them and their family.

No comments:

Post a Comment