Canine Custody Battle: 3 Ways the Court Decides Who Gets to Keep Fido after a Divorce

Law Blog

While the court system views pets as property during divorce proceedings, it does recognize that people are more likely emotionally attached to their dog than they are to their material belongings. For this reason, many courts have started taking other things into consideration when deciding who gets to keep the family pet. For example, if a family has two dogs that are closely bonded to one another, the court might decide to keep the dogs together for their emotional stability instead of splitting them up for equality's sake. Following are three ways the court decides who gets to keep Fido after a divorce.

Past Care

If you're in a dispute over who gets the dog with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, the court will consider evidence that shows who primarily takes care of the dog. Some things they consider include the following:

  • Which party feeds the dog
  • Which party walks the dog
  • Who takes care of veterinary visits
  • Who takes the dog to the park
  • Who bathes the dog

If one party does the majority of the work, they will likely be viewed as the best pet parent. However, if both parties do an equal amount of work, other factors will be considered. 

Current Finances

The court will also evaluate you and your ex's financial situations. If one party can show that the other is unable to financially afford the pet, they will have a better chance at winning the case. Finances are an especially important factor when the dog needs ongoing medical care or has special needs of some sort. However, finances usually do not win or lose a case unless there is great disparity between incomes.

Future Wellbeing

The court will also decide who can provide the best emotional future for the dog. If the dog is especially close to one of your children, the court may decide to grant the dog to the party that has custody of the child. Other things the court may consider include who is able to spend more time at home with the pet, who the dog has a closer emotional bond with, and who can give the dog a more consistent lifestyle. 

In addition to these things, the court may also consider who paid for the dog and if the dog was considered a gift. As you can see, there are many things that the court will consider. Since no two cases are alike, it's vital that you discuss all of the factors that may affect your case with your attorney, one like Garrett & Silvey Law Firm, before your divorce proceedings. 


19 June 2015

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