Who Gets the Family Pet After a NY Divorce?

Many people consider their pets as part of the family, which is why who gets the family dog, cat, or rabbit after a divorce is a serious point of contention. Although New York law views pets as property, state family courts have started to use a “best for all concerned” standard—a type of hybrid approach that is similar to the “best interests” standard in child custody cases—to determine pet custody. 

The court will not only consider how the pet was obtained, but also how the pet was taken care of throughout the relationship and who provided such care. Couples can pursue either a sole or joint pet custody arrangement. 

The following are the factors a judge will consider when determining the best for all concerned in a New York pet custody case: 

  • Who bought or adopted the pet, as well as the facts and circumstances surrounding the purchase or adoption? 

  • Who registered the pet? 

  • Who typically fed, groomed, walked, took the pet to the vet, or otherwise provided for the pet’s needs while living together? 

  • Who paid for most of the pet’s expenses? 

  • Who spent more time with the pet on a regular basis? 

  • Who had the pet microchipped? 

  • Are children involved and how attached are they to the pet? 

  • What is the custody arrangement the pet owners are seeking? 

In addition to considering which spouse would best provide care for the pet, the court will also consider the emotional impact of each owner. Remember, couples have the option of creating a pet custody arrangement that works for both parties before taking the case to court. 

If you are interested in establishing a pet custody arrangement in Brooklyn, contact Arnel Law Firm today at (718) 550-3024 for a free initial consultation. More than 35 years of family law experience!