Pets are part of the family, and some couples and their animals are inseparable. When couples split up, however, it can cause uncertainty over who gets custody of the family pet. Like property such as land and financial assets, a pet is given to one spouse during the divorce. The spouse would then have sole custody of the animal, and the other individual would have no visitation rights.

Georgia Law

Pets are considered property and property laws apply to pets when couples go through divorce in Georgia. It may not seem fair, but pets will be listed with other items that a couple owns. Some US states want to change things and hope that courts will soon see pets as more than just property.

A proposed bill in New Mexico would give judges the final say in which spouse receives the couple’s pet following a divorce.

Court Considerations on Pets

Some Georgia courts will make special considerations on which spouse will look after the animal. Not all Georgia divorce courts will apply special consideration, and will simply go with the typical property laws of the state. Georgia judges will attempt to find out which spouse is more responsible for the care of the pet. This could come in the form of documents and paperwork from the pet’s veterinarian. The spouse who has handled much of the animal’s care could get favorable treatment in the decision of custody.

Judges will also try to determine which spouse spends more time with the pet and has the better relationship. Finally, courts will see if one of the spouses has been abusive toward the animal. These four areas will allow a Georgia court to make a final decision.

Can Couples Have Joint Custody of a Pet?

There have been cases in Georgia in which courts have given joint custody of a pet. The couple would enter into a shared pet agreement, and would have to abide by the rules of the paperwork. The future of pet custody looks bright in many states. Animal lovers are pushing for courts to recognize the animal’s best interest in placing them with one of the spouses. Already, one state, Alaska, is treating its pets similarly to children. Alaska’s pet-divorce law makes the state the first in the US to be animal friendly. According to the Atlantic, many law schools are now teaching pet custody law as America’s love for domestic creatures grows even more.

Vayman & Teitelbaum can Help

The law firm of Vayman & Teitelbaum can provide you with legal guidance when it comes to divorce and family law needs. With four locations in Georgia, Vayman & Teitelbaum, Attorneys at Law, is available to give you insight on issues surrounding family law matters. Visit our family law page to see how we can help you. If you have any questions, contact us and let our experienced attorneys in family law go to work for you.