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Divorce: Custody litigation isn't always about children

It is a busy time of year. In addition to planning for the holidays, some people are also planning to file family court petitions. Before 2019 comes to an end, many Washington married couples will set the wheels in motion to divorce. Those who do will no doubt have numerous issues to resolve, often including finding fair and agreeable solutions regarding custody.

Not every custody case has to do with children, however. As made evident by several celebrity divorce cases, some spouses attempt to litigate custody issues concerning one or more pets. Country music stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert had an entire farm and house filled with animals when they divorced. Their custody case included three horses, a flock of chickens, six dogs and more animals -- but no children.

Other celebrity couples, such as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, also went to court to try to resolve pet custody disputes. In this state and most others, such matters are typically considered property division issues; however, some judges have made decisions about pets using child custody guidelines. There are typically several issues to resolve concerning pets, such as where an animal or animals will reside and who will provide ongoing care after the owners divorce.

Financial issues are also pertinent to pet disagreements in divorce. Who will pay the veterinarian bills, and will each spouse take turns footing the bill for pet food and supplies? Will the pet stay in one home or be transported back and forth between both households? Who will pay the cost of travel if air flight is involved? An experienced Washington family law attorney can review a client's prospective pet  agreement and provide guidance and support throughout proceedings.

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