For many couples who opt not to have children, a pet is considered a ‘fur child. Unfortunately, according to the Huffington Post, ‘the law would not agree. Joyce Tischler, director of litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund told the Huffington Post that, ‘in the eyes of the law, they are really no different than the silverware, the cars, the home. This makes for some serious arguments during divorce when there is a shared pet, which, according to the Huffington Post, is more and more likely. ‘Sixty-three percent’71.1 million’of U.S. households own pets, according to the latest National Pet Owners Survey. The bulk of those animals are dogs’about 44 million,’ the Huffington Post reports.
Caring for these pets is big business, too. Americans are estimated to spend roughly $40 billion every year on pet care, up dramatically from an average of $24 billion in 1994. This is not only indicative of the rising popularity of luxury pet items, but also of American attitudes. ‘More couples have fewer children than a generation or two ago and view their pet as their kids or companions,’ reports the Huffington Post, ‘owners pay $2,000 for an orthopedist to reconstruct a dog’s knee’ high-end pet stores sell rhinestone-studded dog collars, peanut butter biscotti instead of run-of-the-mill dog treats.’
It’s no wonder, then, that pet custody battles have become more common in recent years. Nearly 25 percent of lawyers reporting to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have noticed an increase in the number of pet custody battles in recent years. In 1995 a Florida court ruled that a pet should be considered under the dictates of the equitable distribution statute, but animal rights activists and divorcees alike are looking to change that.
Nancy Peterson, however, an issues specialist at the Human Society told the Huffington Post that oftentimes a pet ends up in the crossfires of a divorce. ‘An ex who takes his or her former spouse to court repeatedly over visiting Fluffy or paying veterinary bills probably is not as concerned about the dog as he or she is about controlling an ex-wife or ex-husband,’ the Huffington Post states.
If you or someone you know has questions about pet custody or any divorce issues in Kane County, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Contact Van A. Larson, P.C. today.