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2-year battle of pet lovers for 'child custody' of family dog

Many couples in Maryland and elsewhere have pets that they regard as members of their families. For these families, custody of pets after a divorce is as concerning as child custody. Unfortunately, the law sees any pet in the same way as a piece of furniture or other property.

Some courts may have compassion for pet-lovers in divorce, and while it will never consider pet support, pet custody may receive some attention. If a judge decides to allow pet custody to be addressed, the factors to consider may include which spouse purchased the pet and who carried the costs of food and veterinarian care. The court will also want to know who provided primary care and who is currently accommodating the pet.

Couples who can resolve their pet-related issues before they file for divorce may save not only time but also legal fees for litigations. A couple in another state has been fighting a court battle for over two years because they cannot come to an agreement over custody and visitation of their dog. The wife once accused her ex of abducting the dog, and the court issued a protective order for the husband to stay away from his former wife and the dog. He is still fighting for custody and even suggested mediation, but the judge ordered compliance with the protective order.

Pet lovers in Maryland may learn from this couple how not to handle pet custody. Discussing such issues with a skilled divorce attorney may be wise. A lawyer can give valuable advice based on years of experience, and if the couple fails to resolve the issue, mediation may be the answer. An attorney can arrange the services of an experienced family law mediator who can facilitate negotiations during which custody and visitation plans can be discussed similar to the way others resolve child custody issues.

Source: FindLaw, "Dog Custody a Bone of Contention in Ill. Couple's Divorce", Daniel Taylor, Accessed on Nov. 24, 2016

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