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How Is Pet Custody Determined During a New Jersey Divorce?

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holding cat and dog

When you and your spouse split, there are many important legal considerations you must make, from determining alimony to dividing up your property. However, none of that may seem as important to you as keeping custody of your pets. Unfortunately, this can be a challenging process, as New Jersey does not have any laws surrounding the custody of animals shared between couples. The following blog explores what you must know if you have furry friends and discover how a Somerset County divorce attorney can help you improve your chances of getting pet custody.

What Can Influence My Chances of Keeping My Pet?

New Jersey, like most states, has no laws surrounding pet custody. Despite the fact that you consider them family, pets are treated as property during a divorce. Due to the emotional aspect of this issue, it can be highly contentious, so knowing what factors will influence a court’s decision can help you better prepare.

Even though they are considered property, they aren’t treated like a couch or television. The courts will consider the following factors:

  • When the pet was purchased or adopted
  • Who purchased or adopted the pet
  • Which person provides the bulk of the pet’s basic needs
  • Who pays the bills, including medical expenses, food, and toys
  • If either partner has the space in their home or yard
  • Which partner’s work schedule allows them more opportunities to care for the pet
  • Which partner the pet has bonded with

Generally, the courts will try to keep the pet’s best interest in mind, as each spouse has to argue that they are entitled to the pet.

However, a couple may be able to decide that shared custody is the best option for their needs. Just like joint custody can harm children, it can also be traumatizing for the pet so this is not always the default option.

How Can an Attorney Help Me Get Pet Custody?

When you are going through a divorce, and there is a pet involved, it’s essential to understand what you can do to improve your chances of getting custody of the pet. This includes keeping receipts of money spent on them, such as grooming and medical expenses, photos of you spending time with the pet, and proving that your children are attached to the animal.

Also, enlisting the assistance of an experienced attorney can help you get custody of your pet. Though it may not seem as vital as other legal issues you encounter during your divorce, the Siragusa Law Firm understands that your pets play an integral role in your family. As such, we will do everything possible to help you obtain custody of your animals. Contact us today to learn how we can help you during this challenging time.

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