Fighting for custody…of your pets
It's the sophisticated version of a cat fight. Pets are increasingly becoming a hot button issue for couples going through the divorce process.
In New Jersey, cats and dogs aren't treated by the courts like children. In fact, they're treated like a piece of furniture. Spouses can't convince a judge who loves Fluffy the most; it comes down to the facts - who purchased Fluffy, or who received Fluffy as a gift.
Bari Weinberger, expert divorce and family law attorney, said her New Jersey offices deal with pet battles regularly, and pets are embroiled in at least half of the cases they handle.
"People spend tens upon tens of thousands of dollars getting attorneys involved in custody and parenting time-related issues involving their pets," Weinberger said.
Couples would be wise to handle these disputes out of court, according to Weinberger. She said couples can come up with a creative solution on their own if they both can't imagine letting Fluffy go. Her offices have gone as far as crafting visitation schedules for pets.
"I've even had visitation for horses, iguanas, snakes, birds and ferrets," Weinberger added. "You can get creative and say that if you have children, the pet will follow the children in the custodial arrangement."
Some happily married couples already have the matter handled. Pets are not uncommon in prenuptial agreements, and post-marriage contracts can be formed for couples who purchase a pet together, so there's no frustration in the face of divorce.