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Pet Custody and Pennsylvania Divorce

By Sheryl Rentz on September 22, 2015

young girl on grass with a dog

When couples divorce, custody is one of the most difficult issues to resolve. Not only does it apply to children, but pets as well. Pets are just as important as kids, and are usually considered a member of the family. According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 27 percent of attorneys report an increase in pet custody cases over the last five years.

The courts of Pennsylvania deal with pets the same way as they deal with other inanimate personal property in the event of a divorce. An animal can’t be sued, can’t sue someone else, and can’t own property. Animals are classified as tangible personal property, for which non-economic damages are not available. The courts WILL NOT enforce shared custody agreements for pets.

If pet custody is not worked out first between the divorcing couple, an option is to go to a property division hearing and let the court decide. The court will likely give the pet to one spouse or the other just as it would any other personal property such as furniture or TVs. It is not likely to get involved in creating a schedule to continue to share the pet post-divorce.

Mediation can help you come to an arrangement that creates a positive environment for you and your pets post-divorce. If you believe mediation is the best option for you and your family, contact the Delaware County mediation attorneys at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. today for a consultation at (610) 645-0100. We are committed to helping you create a positive future.



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