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Pet custody: An important part of some divorces

When a marriage is over, there are lots of things to talk and think about. One of the things that is becoming a more prominent question is who gets to take the family pets.

Pets, today, are being treated more and more like family. Instead of treating them as property like courts did in the past, more people are turning to judges to establish visitation policies and for custody discussions.

By law, pets are nothing more than property you own. However, it's no question that animals are living, breathing and emotional beings. They can obviously have favorite toys, enjoy certain foods and even have a favorite "parent."

While going to court likely won't result in a custody plan for your pets, you can set one up with your spouse through your attorneys. If you present the court with your plan, there is really no reason that a judge won't agree to it (barring unusual circumstances). Pet sharing is starting to make more sense as the number of people spending thousands on their pets is increasing. People buy them clothes, specialty toys and even cook for them. That's why pets are becoming more like family and less like disposable assets.

Judges do have the discretion to determine who a pet lives with and if the pets will thrive with. If you do have to take your dispute to court, consider having documentation about your pet, how you take care of it and why it's better off staying with you. A good argument will go a distance, even if your pet custody case isn't exactly the same as a child custody case.

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