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Who does the family pet go to in a divorce?

New York residents love their family pets. Many consider the pet an essential part of the family. But, when it comes to a divorce, the family pet is considered property and this ends up being a big bone of contention in many separations.

Houses can be sold, property and assets divided, but what about pets? Legally speaking, the dog is considered family property. Although a pet may be considered priceless and irreplaceable by family members, for the court they are considered assets that must be divided. When couples end the marriage on good terms, they come up with a custody and visitation schedule for the dog-along with the other aspects of the divorce agreement-before the matter reaches the court. But, when things are not ending amicably, the pet's ownership may be hotly contested.

Professionals have told stories where exasperated judges have tried unconventional tactics to decide custody, such as having a dog run to whoever the dog wanted to stay with. The divorcing couple was told that they should not call the dog's name or stuff their pockets with treats in an attempt to sway the dog. In one case mentioned in a recent news article, the dog ran to the woman and the man received a financial amount that must have seemed nominal in comparison to the family pet he adored.

Property division is difficult enough in a divorce, but adding a pet to the equation can make it even more upsetting for those involved. While resolving the matter outside of the court with the help of an experienced professional is often the best course of action to take, it depends on the couple's individual circumstances.

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