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Pet Custody in Divorce

Posted on in Child Custody
Pet Custody in Divorce IMAGEAccording to San Antonio Magazine, the "late author Nora Ephron once compared having a baby to throwing a hand grenade into a marriage." This could be one reason that more and more married couples are opting to not have children, and those that do are less likely to have more than two. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Statistical Abstract, in 1980 there were 28,528,000 families in America without their own children. By 2010, this number had risen dramatically to 43,615,000. Similarly, the average number of people per American family dropped from 3.29 in 1980 to 3.16 in 2010. Arguably, this makes divorce easier—couples without children who choose to split have far less issues to decide upon, namely child custody and child support. Yet couples without children aren't necessarily going it alone. For many childless couples, pets have become "replacement" children. And deciding pet custody issues can often be as complicated as child custody.

According to a publication released by the Michigan State University College of Law, "pets are considered to be personal property, capable of human ownership and control." This means that the laws regarding pet custody during divorce are meant to benefit the humans in the relationship, not necessarily the pet—unlike the laws regarding child custody. And yet because pets are beginning, in many cases, to be regarded as highly as children in some relationships, some courts are beginning to change the perception that pets should be regarded as property. These courts are, according to the MSU publication, "willing to treat pets more like children." This has, so far, been seen most often when considering custody of dogs. Courts have also, according to MSU, "awarded shared custody, visitation, and alimony payments to the owners."

If you or someone you know is considering divorce and have pet custody issues to decide upon, don't go through it alone. The most important first step is to contact a dedicated Texas family law attorney today. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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