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Pet custody becoming major issue for couples during a divorce

One of the most difficult issues for former spouses to agree upon has traditionally been who will get primary custody of their children. Over the past several years, pets have become a major point of contention for couples who are seeking a divorce. South Carolina residents who are struggling to settle this issue may benefit from some tips to resolve any disagreements.

In the past few years, some states have passed laws that now view contested pet ownership more as a custody issue. In these states, judges are given the latitude to consider what arrangements would best serve the pet involved. Unfortunately, the vast majority of states still consider pets to be little more than other marital property. In these states, it is suggested that couples attempt to work out a custody plan on their own that mirrors one that is used for children.

In some circumstances, a judge may find that a pet was brought into a marriage and the primary caregiver remains the original owner. In this situation or if the pet was given as a gift to the other spouse, then ownership is easier to resolve. However, for other cases, spouses are encouraged to work out the most suitable custody arrangements -- including who will pay for which expenses and basic needs. It is recommended that any plans remain focused on the needs of the pet rather than the wishes of the spouses.

Finally, if the couple also are working to determine child custody, then including the pet into the same plans may work best for all parties involved. For couples who are not yet married, it is possible to draw up a prenuptial agreement that includes how a pet will be cared for in the event of a divorce. South Carolina residents who are working to settle these types of issues may benefit from the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.

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

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