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Pet Custody

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Pet Custody New Jersey

Pet Custody New Jersey girl holding pet beagle dog in armsWhy would you happen to need a New Jersey pet custody lawyer? Would it surprise you to learn that— according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic— the average amount spent on a pet per household last year was $770.00? (Or are you thinking, Wow, I spent a lot more!). 

The thing is, we love our pets. Dogs, cats, fish, or birds— our pets are our friends, our non-judgmental emotional support animals. Which is why, in a divorce, so many of us want to keep them. This takes us to the burgeoning area of pet custody. 

To some people, the thought of fighting like cats and dogs over cats and dogs might seem ridiculous. But to true-blue pet owners, it only seems natural: pets are an extension of ourselves, our emotions, our priorities. So, what should you do if you find yourself getting divorced and fighting over custody of your beloved Rover or Max? 

Consult with a New Jersey Pet Custody Lawyer 

Like so many aspects of divorce, the biggest demarcation line is whether the divorcing couple has children. How does the question of “who gets Rover” unfold when there are no children or when there are children? 

Pet Custody without Children

The biggest factor in deciding who the pet will reside with post-divorce is the question of who had the pet first? It’s very difficult to convince the Court to award custody of Spot to one party if, say, the other party bought Spot into the relationship. This is a non-starter unless some type of animal cruelty can be proven. 

If both parties, in dividing their assets, are vying for custody of Spot, it may be worth examining what one party would be willing to forgo to receive custody. This is one of many places a New Jersey Pet Custody Lawyer may be able to help. While we don’t like to think of Spot as just another asset, if one party desperately wants the pet that same party may be willing to let go of their stake in a prized collection, partial ownership of a second home, or such. It’s here where you truly want to be honest with yourself: would you be happy if an arrangement could be made where you took the pet on one overnight per week? Maybe you just need to visit with the pet to be happy that he or she is a part of your life. 

If neither party is willing to budge, your New Jersey Pet Custody Lawyer will hopefully be able to work with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse (or pet co-parent) to arrange a mutually agreeable custody schedule. While the guidelines to not exist the way they do for children, a visitation schedule in which the pets split their time may be able to be amicably agreed upon and enforced by the Court. If not, questions such as who took your pet to vet visits, who has a backyard, who takes Spot out for exercise, and more, will need to be answered. 

Pet Custody with Children

Obviously, this is a trickier situation and, as almost every aspect of family law takes into consideration, hinges upon, what is in the best interest of the child? Most likely the pet— though they need an adult’s assistance with feeding, cleaning up, etc.— is most bonded with the child. 

There are three main options here and, again, you’ll want to be honest with yourself and your New Jersey Pet Custody Lawyer as you pursue the best one for you and your children.

  • The pet lives with the parent who has primary custody of the children, which is to say the pet resides with the children for the most part of the time. (Whether the pet accompanies the children on custodial parenting time will have to be determined.) 
  • The co-parents have joint custody, and the pet travels back-and-forth, from residence to residence, with the children. 
  • If the so-termed “nesting” option is agreed upon (in which the children remain in the marital home, and the co-parents, sharing custody, come and go from the children’s home), it may make the most sense for the pet to also stay in the marital home with the children. 

When you consult with your New Jersey Pet Custody Lawyer, they’ll help you determine the best course for your beloved pet— the best way for your dog or cat or pet to move forward. At O’Cathain Law Group we know how hard divorce is, and we know we rely on our pets to get us through it. 

Need to rely on a New Jersey Pet Custody Lawyer? Call (201) 488-1161, fill out the intake form, or email a dedicated Family Law paralegal to speak with the O’Cathain Law Group. 

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