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Pet Custody After a Pennsylvania Divorce

How Are Pets Handled In a Montgomery County Divorce?

Anyone who has ever owned, cared for and loved a pet knows that pets are very much a part of the family. This is why the question of who gets to keep pets often becomes a problem during a divorce. When deciding on matters relating to child custody, the court chooses the best interests of the child. But, when it comes to pets, the laws in place benefit the owner. Even though we know pets are much more valuable than belongings, they are considered personal property under the law.

If you’re getting a divorce and have a family pet, you may wonder about who will get custody of your pet. Despite what the law says, we all know pets are much more valuable than most other possessions. Issues regarding the pet's best interests, veterinary care and daily expenses should all factor into the discussion.

At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, our Montgomery County divorce attorneys understand the deep love people have for their pets and the important role furry friends can play to comfort you after a divorce. Our compassionate divorce lawyers can provide you with the legal support and guidance you need regarding pet ownership after divorce.

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Who Gets the Pets?

Under the law, pets are considered property. During divorce proceedings, the court will give pets to one spouse just like other property and assets are divided after a couple separates. It would be best if the divorcing spouses agree on a custody arrangement for the pets. Otherwise, it will be up to the courts to determine pet custody. If you’re having problems deciding pet custody, you can help your chances of keeping your pet by proving that you purchased the pet. You may need to show a receipt, a pet licenses that shows your name as the owner, or even statements from friends or neighbors who can testify that you cared for the pet during your marriage.

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Pet Custody Agreements in Pennsylvania

If you are concerned about who gets the pets in the divorce, it is important that you discuss the matter with your divorce lawyer. Drafting a pet custody agreement can help some divorcing couples. Such an agreement basically defines how you and your ex-spouse will handle pet ownership, care and visitation after the divorce. If you have more than one pet, name each one in the agreement.

In the pet custody agreement, include details such as who will have primary custody, visitation rights, how the pet will receive veterinary care, who will make primary decisions about the pet's health care and who will care for the pet if the primary owner has to travel or gets sick. These agreements will also specify who will get custody of the remains after the pet dies.

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Your Pet's Best Interests

In some recent cases, courts have shown more understanding and flexibility, and are looking at the pet's best interests when deciding pet custody after a divorce. The courts might consider which spouse cared for the pet's needs or provided training. Courts will also likely consider who can provide a more comfortable environment for the pet.

If you’re going through a Montgomery County divorce, be prepared to face pet custody issues. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Pennsylvania divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz. Call us at (610) 645-0100 for a no-cost consultation.

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