Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Same-sex couple ends divorce dispute over pet custody

Many people in Worcester, Massachusetts, love their pets, and there is little doubt how far they will go to show it. Many divorcing spouses fight over the custody of their pets to the extent where sometimes court intervention is necessary. For instance, a same-sex couple reached a settlement in their dog's custody dispute when one of the women gave full custody of the 2-year-old miniature dachshund to her spouse before a court hearing could be scheduled.

Before their marriage in 2012, one of the women bought the 10-week-old puppy and gave it to her girlfriend at the time as a gift and consolation for giving away a pet cat. The woman who bought the dog then said that she should have the dog because she primarily supports the needs of the dog while the other woman contended that she keeps the company of the dog most of the time.

The woman who finally received custody of the dog was very pleased with the settlement. Before the issue had been resolved, the family court judge stated that people who love their dogs love them endlessly, stressing that pets should be treated as children, not property in a divorce proceeding.

Settling a custody battle involving pets can be difficult. In many cases, pets are considered property, but many people consider their pets as part of the family. Not all states process same-sex divorce proceedings; and different states have different rules when settling pet custody.

There are different issues that can stem from divorce, and a same-sex divorce can be more complicated. However, the soon-to-be ex-spouses can speak with each other to find a common ground to settle their divorce concerns. Doing that not only reduces the time the process will consume but also decreases the emotional gap between them.

Source: New York Post, "Dog Fight Over in Dachshund Custody Battle," Julia Marsh, Dec. 10, 2013

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