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Divorce, pets and property

Divorce can be a very contentious time in a couple's lives. There are so many issues to be settled in a divorce such as who gets the house, custody if there are children and division of assets. But who gets the family pet? In Michigan, about 62 percent of couples own a pet. Is there such a thing as pet custody?

Legally, a pet is property. However, many couples view their pet as part of the family. With children, a parent can sit them down and try to explain the situation, but this is not the case with pets.

If a couple can't agree on who will take custody of the family pet, the court will determine ownership of the pet along with other property. According to Michigan law, arranging for shared pet custody would be the same as arranging for shared TV custody. Pets are property and will typically be awarded to one person one time.

Recently, judges have been considering the couple's situation when awarding ownership of a pet. Such concerns as who has more time, who has the financial resources, and are their children who love the pet have recently been considered by some judges when making that decision. A person experiencing this dilemma may benefit from consulting with an attorney experienced in dealing with pets and family law. While there is legally no such thing as pet custody, a family law attorney may still be able to aid in facilitating the situation. Divorce is never easy, but knowledgeable counsel may help smooth the path.

Source: tctimes.com, "Fighting over Fido", Vera Hogan, Accessed on March 25, 2018

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