03 02 2012 Divorce Family Law Attorney News Blog Pet Custody Gaining Importance in Divorce CasesA divorce can lead a couple to fight like cats and dogs, but recently, it seems that couples who are separating are just fighting for their cats and dogs.

Statistics show that the number of divorce cases involving pet custody is rising across the country.

In a 2006 survey by the 1,600-member American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 25 percent of those surveyed said pet custody cases had increased noticeably since 2001.

Usually, if the couple has children, a divorce judge will have the pet stay with the child. But when there aren’t any kids involved, then things can get messy, and no divorce attorney may be able to mollify the situation.

While pets are considered property in every state, judges are now reviewing pet custody cases a little different. It’s no doubt humans love their furry friends, so, it’s about time they started being recognized as part of the family in the legal eye.

“Judges are viewing them more akin to children than dining room sets. They are recognizing that people have an emotional attachment to their animals,” said Ken Altshuler of Portland, Maine, a divorce attorney and AAML president.

“People are not embarrassed to fight for custody of a pet today. In the past they might have shied away from it because society didn’t really accept a pet as anything other than an accessory to your life,” added Silvana Raso, a family law attorney in New Jersey.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any visitation rights when it comes to pets, so matters are usually left up to the couple or their divorce attorneys. However, there are times in which one spouse may abuse the pet, in which case the other party may take legal action and take on sole custody of the pet.