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What happens to the family pet in a divorce?

The dissolution of a marriage can be a very stressful time for couples who are seeking to separate their once-entangled lives. When most people hear the word divorce, they often conjure up the idea of who gets what with regard to tangible property. Recently, Connecticut has witnessed an uptick of divorce cases involving pets, which is creating a tipping point for some couples. Who gets the fur baby when both parties may have a vested interest in the family pet?

Most Connecticut residents own pets and often consider them a family member. The debate about who gets the pet when the household is separated can often become a heated issue, especially when the couple has no children or other pets. When the situation of pet ownership and custody become a concern, most judges will treat the animal as property.

Currently, few laws stand to assist judges in deciding what guidelines to consider when the family pet is being fought over. The court may decide to rule in pet custody, but often will ask the couple to work it out among themselves. Some judges will take certain things into consideration when pet custody becomes an issue, especially if children are involved in the divorce.

A divorce can be painful and, in some cases, may involve the family pet. Regardless of how attached both parties are to the animal, it is seen as property and treated as such. There is no guarantee that a Connecticut judge will address the pet custody issue, but an attorney may be able to aid in cataloging all marital assets before they are divided and increase one's chances of retaining his or her share of the property amassed during the marriage, including the pets.

Source:, "Fighting over Fido", Vera Hogan, March 9, 2018

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