Who Keeps the Family Pet After a Pittsburgh Divorce?

July 22, 2016 | Divorce, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Candice Komar Candice Komar

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that 37 to 47 percent of all U.S. households have a dog and 30 to 37 percent of households have a cat. Countless more households have one or more beloved pets, including birds, horses and other animals.  But what happens to all of those pets when a couple splits and gets divorced?

While you and your partner may view your furry friend as a family member or even as another child, the court system in Pittsburgh sees your pet only as a piece of property to be divided like dishware or a piece of furniture. In Pennsylvania, this means that the court will look to see if the property (your pet) is marital or perhaps non-marital property, if it was purchased or adopted by one of the spouses before the time of the marriage.

This can be a very upsetting and stressful topic if you, like millions of other Americans, see your pet as someone to travel with wherever you go and you do not wish for the judge assigned to your case to make an arbitrary decision regarding where Fido and Max will go to live after your divorce.

Is Mediation an Option?

If you are looking for an option to determine where your pet might live, other than a straightforward decision by a judge who has never even met your pet, Pittsburgh divorce mediation attorneys may be able to provide you with an alternative.  At Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, our team of family law practitioners can determine if divorce mediation is appropriate for your case.

There are many benefits to mediation, including:

  • Keeping the pet’s needs in mind: Allowing you and your spouse to provide information regarding your pet’s needs, including the ability of either spouse to care full-time for the pet in light of work and other commitments. Mediation can provide a forum for discussing which partner provides the most day-to-day care for the pet and who is best able to continue to do that after the divorce.
  • Dealing with financial concerns: Any pet owner knows that there are oftentimes significant expenses for food, medical treatment and veterinary bills.  Although these issues may not be taken into consideration by the judge, these types of financial issues can be discussed in mediation in order to determine which partner has the financial ability to provide for your pet’s
  • Flexibility: Mediation allows you and your partner to think outside of the box and arrive at a solution that is best for your pet and your family.

If you are thinking about getting divorced or you have already filed, it is important to speak with a Pittsburgh divorce mediation attorney regarding any family pets and the arrangements you would like to see put in place for their long-term care and welfare.

At Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, our lawyers are ready to help you develop a strategy that will assist you in reaching those goals either through divorce mediation or even litigation. Call today at (412) 471-9000 to speak to one of our lawyers or use our online contact form.

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