Divorce can be a very stressful process regardless of how well the couple splitting up gets along. Property division and custody agreements can create an incredible amount of tension between any couple, as some Massachusetts residents may have discovered. But how does the family pet fit in? Many people across the country see their pets as members of the family and are unwilling to part with them easily.
In most states, pets are considered a type of property rather than sentient individuals. However, most owners treat their pets more like children than property. Some pet parents choose to work out a kind of custody arrangement between themselves before going to court. Others are unable to come to a decision, and judges are sometimes required to get creative.
Some judges have imposed custody agreements, while others have awarded custody of the animal to a single person. If the couple is unable to come to an agreement, then the judge may order them to sell the animal. In some cases, judges have allowed the animal to choose, in a way, by seeing who the animal approaches first without being called or bribed. One case in which the custody of the animal was determined in this way resulted in the wife being awarded custody of the animal, while the husband was awarded $500 instead.
Because animals are widely recognized as property, it is often left up to the couple to determine how custody will be handled. Consulting with an attorney can help many Massachusetts couples to settle property division issues. Matters involving pet custody can be especially difficult for the people involved, and attorneys may be able to help the divorcing couple to communicate effectively and come to a mutually beneficial agreement.