When a Michigan couple decides to end their marriage, many decisions will need to be made. Who will keep which assets and be responsible for which liabilities are often just the beginning. Custody issues often come in to play as terms of the divorce agreement are settled.
The average family consists of children as well as one or more family pets. When one thinks of custody issues, the children are often the ones who come to mind. However, in many families, the family pet is considered to be a part of the family. As such, a pet can also become an area of contention as each party vies for custody.
While both parties may be attached to the beloved pet, typically one of the individuals has acted as the primary caregiver. This is the individual who makes sure that the pet is fed and its medical needs are attended to. Additionally, the pet may have formed more of an attachment to one of the individuals. This is the individual that the pet looks to when it wants to play and/or snuggle.
These are all areas to be considered in determining which party should have custody of the pet. Furthermore, if children are involved and the children are attached to the pet, this will need to be taken into consideration. In some cases, Michigan judges are recognizing that pets are more than just property to be considered in the divorce. However, state law still considers pets as property and does not yet formally recognize the concept of pet custody. Prior to making a final determination regarding pet custody, as well as any other divorce decisions, the individual will want to discuss the matter with legal counsel.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "New state law treats pets more like children in custody cases", Leonor Vivanco-Prengaman, Dec. 25, 2017