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Pets becoming even more of a fighting point during divorce

When two spouses decide to get divorced, they split their property and usually share custody of the children. However, what happens to Rufus, their dog? If they both have an affinity for Man's Best Friend, this can easily spark conflict during a divorce proceeding in Massachusetts.

A survey recently noted that the number of divorce proceedings involving pet custody conflicts has increased in recent years. Dogs were the most fought-over pet, with 88 percent of cases involving these furry animals. Cats were a distant second, with only 6 percent of custody cases involving felines. Horses and other animals also make up around 6 percent of pet custody cases.

In some cases, two divorcing parties may divide millions of dollars' worth of assets with ease but have trouble determining who gets to keep the pet. Why? Pets are often viewed as a part of the family, so losing a pet as a result of a divorce proceeding may be emotionally unbearable for some pet owners. The best-case scenario is for the divorcing spouses to come up with a resolution without further court intrusion. For instance, they can create a visiting plan that mirrors what parents use for children following divorce.

If the two spouses can reach an agreement concerning their pet through mediation or informal negotiation, this may save them the time, money and stress that typically accompany divorce litigation. Of course, if they cannot see eye to eye on the issue, they have no choice but to depend on a judge to make the final decision for them. In either situation, an attorney in Massachusetts will push for the most personally favorable outcome for the client.

Source:, "Pets increasingly becoming divorce battleground", Susan Peck, March 27, 2018

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