Although the youngest child of Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas is just short of 18, the couple still needs to agree on custody arrangements with respect to their pending divorce — not for their children, but for their three adopted dogs. However, this is not something new, as a recent survey indicated a noticeable increase in pet custody cases. Unlike children, pets are considered personal property. Therefore, pets in Arizona will form part of the division of marital property.
When one considers that 75 percent of American households have pets, and that there are equally as many pet cats as underage children in the United States, it is no wonder that pet custody matters are on the rise. Many families consider pets as part of their family and being left without a beloved companion can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, few courts to date are willing to treat animals like children instead of property.
The current trend in the majority of courts is to treat pets as personal property and to act in the interest of the owner and not the pet. This means pets are considered similar to the furniture and other worldly possessions of the parties, making matters like visitation rights and ‘pet’ support largely irrelevant. A few family courts have started to deal with pets as they do with children and even award shared custody, support payments and even allow for visitation.
In most cases, Arizona couples in the midst of a divorce may find they need to reach an agreement to determine the arrangements regarding the pets. If an agreement between partners seems impossible, mediation may be the answer to ensure the protection of the interests of all involved, including the pets. It stands to reason that pets should no longer be treated solely as part of the division of marital property, as if they are inanimate objects.
Contact Our Phoenix Divorce Lawyers
If you are in a dispute over your pets, our Phoenix divorce lawyers can help. Call the Law Offices of Janice M. Palmer, P.C. at (480) 820-4771 or toll-free at (888) 352-7725 for a consultation.
Source: commdiginews.com, “Melanie Griffith: pet custody issues more common in divorce“, Myra Fleischer, June 30, 2014