Nowadays, many Arizona married couples consider their pets to be members of their families. This can not only cause emotional upheaval in divorce but can also create legal problems. Many attorneys report that they’ve seen an increase in court battles regarding pet custody, a trend that will likely continue.
Arizona law considers decisions regarding pets in divorce as part of property division proceedings. A few other states have started resolving issues about family pets in divorce proceedings similar to how they decide child custody issues. However, Arizona has not yet adopted this approach, and the laws in this state define personal property as money, chattel, dogs and other goods.
It makes sense to include issues about where the family pet will live in child custody proceedings, particularly if the child is especially attached to the pet. The Arizona family court always has children’s best interests in mind when making child custody decisions. Many people think it is a good idea to execute a pet care agreement ahead of time, stating what should happen regarding the pet if spouses decide to divorce.
An experienced Arizona family law attorney can answer questions about pet custody concerns in divorce. Some spouses agree to share possession of their pets after the marriage is over, also agreeing to share the financial expenses associated with having a pet. Similar to child custody agreements, former spouses can write out terms stating where the pet in question will live, who will buy food and supplies, and also pay for vet bills.