Many families have a deep attachment to their pets. For some family members, the attachment and love for a family pet can be just as important as the love for a child. This can be evident in Pennsylvania courts as property division agreements can involve disputes concerning the fate of these pets. While still legally regarded as property, more and more courts are taking individual cases into consideration and implementing creative resolutions when equitable distribution of property involves a pet.
One case recently noted refers to a couple who had a cat. The wife’s love and attachment for the cat served as a sort of bargaining chip for the husband. By giving the cat back to the wife, the man was able to negotiate more visitation time with his daughter.
Another case involved a couple who had a dog. Both wanted the dog and were granted what was equal to shared custody. This agreement was complete with scheduled drop offs and care of the animal. However, the relationship between the two made drop offs difficult and resulted in family members having to do the actual drop off as the couple wanted no face-to-face communication.
Even under the legal definition of property, animals are playing a distinct role in how a divorce and property agreement unfolds, be it through a shared possession agreement or as a bargaining chip. While equitable distribution of property can be complicated, courts try to be as fair as possible whether pets are involved or not. When pursuing a divorce that involves beloved pets, it may be beneficial to be aware of how pets are regarded and what other similar cases may have unfolded in Pennsylvania.
Source: northjersey.com, “All’s fair in love and war and pet custody battles”, John Petrick, Sept. 1, 2015