A Divorce Lawyer in Tacoma WA Represents Clients in Pet Custody Disputes

by | Dec 18, 2018 | law

Sometimes a Divorce Lawyer in Tacoma WA represents a client for whom the marriage termination would be all wrapped up except for one outstanding disagreement: which person gets to keep a companion animal. Giving up a beloved dog or cat can be heart-wrenching for both spouses, and there may be no easy or obvious solution.

Property vs. Custody

In the realm of law, pets technically are considered property. Yet in recent years, the concept of pet custody has become a part of family law for many attorneys. Some couples are including companion animals in their prenuptial agreements. For couples who did not do this, a difficult decision awaits when they decide to split up.

Since judges still tend to view pets as property, being able to prove ownership can give one person an edge. Perhaps the animal was already owned by this person before the marriage. Maybe paperwork is available proving who purchased the pet. If the dog or cat was a gift to one person, evidence of this can be presented.

Mediation Sessions

A Divorce Lawyer in Tacoma WA and the other spouse’s attorney can arrange mediation sessions for these two individuals. The only other option in this type of stalemate is to bring the matter before a judge in a court hearing. The sessions, conducted by an impartial mediator, are intended to help the two come to an agreement.

Considerations About Children

One important consideration is whether the couple has children. The kids may be emotionally attached to the family pet. Their lives are already being disrupted by the divorce, and perhaps needing to move out of the family home. Being able to keep the dog or cat can prevent further emotional trauma.

The Pet and the Persons

During sessions arranged by a lawyer such as Kevin G. Byrd, the mediator will want to know which person has been mainly responsible for caring for the animal. Can the other person easily take over those duties if obtaining pet custody? Does the animal have a stronger emotional bond with one person or the other? This is common for both dogs and cats, even when they are a family pet.

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