Divorce: Who gets custody of the pet?

Posted by William H. Sherman on Oct 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

Question:    My wife and I will be getting divorced.  Things have been bad for several years and they're not getting any better.  We'd like to do everything as amicably as possible because our relationship is actually still pretty good, but being married is not for us.  Our kids are in college and my wife works full-time for an architectural firm in Atlanta.  We live in Sandy Springs.  I work in Alpharetta for a construction company.

The major issue is our dog.  We both want custody of the dog and it's the only thing we can't agree on.  There's no alimony involved, no child support no one is hiding any assets, as far as I know.

It's really just who gets custody of the dog.  It's not that the dog is valuable in her own right, she's a mutt.  We got her from an animal shelter in Cumming about 7 years ago.  But we both want to have the dog.

How does a court decide who gets the pet?  I have a friend who got divorced and he and his wife had to have a judge decide who got the cat and the parrot.  I'd like to learn more about who gets a pet in a divorce.

B.M. in Sandy Springs, GA

Answer:    We get pet custody questions at least once a day in the context of a divorce.  There is no set standard under Georgia law to determine who gets custody of the family pet.  Sometimes it is a matter of simple ownership.  One party may simply own the pet and have brought it into the marriage.  But many times when the pet is acquired during the marriage the decision is made by a judge based on that judge's discretion.  The judge may try to determine what is in the pet's best interest.

Who's the primary pet caretaker?

A court may look at which spouse does the majority of work involved with the pet, including feeding, training, grooming, walking, taking to the veterinarian and even picking up the poop?  Oftentimes a court will award custody of the pet to the primary pet caretaker since this individual is more involved in the day-to-day care of the animal.

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Fifty percent of couples get divorced.  So when you need questions answered, call us immediately.

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Here at the Sherman Law Group we welcome all questions and try to answer as many as possible on our blog.  If you have a question, email it to us and we'll do our best to answer it (we might have to edit it for length).  Of course, all questions are anonymous.  Please call us at 678-215-4106.

About the Author

William H. Sherman

With a professional background that includes serving as a Senior Assistant County Attorney and as an Assistant Attorney General, attorney William H. Sherman has great experience, a broad range of legal knowledge and a proven record of success.  Each of Mr. Sherman's clients gets the full benefit of his experience.  Because attorney Sherman has worked for governmental organizations, large corporations and clerked for a judge, he has handled a wide variety of cases from negotiation and trial to successful appeal. Mr. Sherman is very proud of his reputation as a problem-solver who is always available to his clients.  Active in the community, Mr. Sherman and his wife, attorney Valerie Sherman, support many community organizations, sports teams and charities.  Call him now and let his experience work for you.


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