Pet Custody: Who gets the Dog?

Sep 17, 2018

Getting divorced is never simple, and things get far more complicated when pets are involved. Pet custody can be a little complicated in New York, so it is helpful to get some advice from a divorce attorney in Brooklyn. If you have a pet, here are a few things you need to know.

How Does NY Law Decide Pet Custody?

Legally speaking, pets are not viewed as children in the state of New York. Unlike children, there is not typically a debate about who gets the pet or how much time you can spend with the vet. In most cases, New York courts will simply award the dog to whoever owns it. However, they do have more discretion than states where pets are treated solely as property. A court can award a pet to someone who does not have the title for the pet if they determine it to be the best outcome for the pet and any other parties in the divorce.

How Can You Prove Ownership of the Pet?

Though ownership is not necessary to get custody of a pet, it can help to show that you are the partner who is primarily responsible for the pet. Your Brooklyn divorce attorney may advise you to collect the following proof:

  • A registration with your name on it
  • Veterinary records in your name
  • A microchip that includes your name
  • Registrations in the AKC, CFA, or other pedigree associations
  • Receipts or card statements showing you purchase food and other goods for the pet.

Is There Any Way to Get the Pet If You Do Not Own It?

Because New York law often leaves pet custody up to the courts, it is important to have a talented Brighton Beach divorce lawyer on your side. You may be able to argue that you should get the pet because you take better care of it, your former partner neglects it, or it is primarily the pet of your child. Courts will also take into account how you and your partner have been caring for the pet since you split up.