As cats, dogs, and other pets become a greater part of our lives, it's not surprising that divorce pet custody cases are on the rise. In a 2006 survey, divorce attorneys said they saw a noticeable increase in such cases. Since that time, anecdotal evidence suggests that pet custody cases have become even more prevalent, reports USA TODAY.
Traditionally, pets were viewed as someone's property. In fact, technically, they still are. However, courts have been taking a more pet-friendly approach and have been treating pets more similarly to children than furniture, reports USA TODAY.
For example, in a divorce, martial property like cars, homes, furniture, and other personal assets would usually be split according to a court order or settlement. As property, pets were given away and one party would have the pet, while the other partner would be left out. With property like furniture, this is okay as most people do not have sentimental feelings for their couch. But it's different with a pet.
Courts now often handle divorce pet custody cases like they do with child custody cases. For example, in working out settlements, a plan may have to be made for dog visits, dog daycare, travel arrangements, food, vet care, end of life decisions, and other factors that were not previously considered.
There has been a swing on the thinking in divorce pet custody cases. Previously viewed as property, pet custody was usually a simple decision where one party would get the pet and that would be the end of it. But as pets are now viewed as family members, a pet custody decision bears many similarities to a child custody decision.