Pets Are Commonly a Sticky Subject When It Comes to Divorces

According to law, pets aren't looked at like children in a divorce agreement. Their "custody" or "ownership" is determined because they're considered property. That being said, there's a rise of mediators who specialize in "petnup" agreements to avoid any disagreements in court. “Someone’s cat or someone’s dog is a part of their family and should not be treated like a piece of furniture or their Honda Civic,” said Sen. James Skoufis, who is also the owner of a cat named Ruth, after the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Most judges around the country are approaching this increasingly difficult and emotional issue on a case-by-case basis, because every couple is different. In some relationships, it's more apparent who should take primary ownership of the pet even if it was purchased together. In other cases, the lines are a little more blurry. Animal behaviorist Karis Nafte now works in pet custory, and said: "Part of what I try to help people understand is that even if a dog feels like a child in your heart, it isn’t, and if you’re treating it like a child, it’s actually a disservice to the dog,” she said. “Having that voice, that kind of expert eye on the situation, calms things down. A lot of times, people just don’t know what to do. They just don’t want to say goodbye to their dog.”

Apparently, a visitation schedule puts more stress on your pet than just a flat-out goodbye. “What we would like to see is to have animals considered in the most holistic way possible,” Cristina Stella of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said. “Who is the animal bonded to? Who can provide for the animal’s overall health and well-being going forward?”

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