It is not at all unusual for Washington married couples to encounter challenges in their relationships that they do not feel they can overcome. In such situations, filing for divorce is a common solution. Doing so typically prompts a decision-making process, involving issues such as where children will live (if a couple has kids), whether the marital house will be sold, as well as whether a parent will pay child support.
Another issue is becoming increasingly common in Washington family courts, and that is how to determine which spouse gets the family pet. Some people say such matters should be resolved through property division proceedings. Others advocate for incorporating pet issues as part of custody proceedings.
An author who has closely analyzed the situation believes that more and more states will enact pet custody laws within the next decade. Citing the fact that many spouses consider their pets to be family members, not property, she and others who support the idea say it makes more sense for family court judges to decides such matters as part of custody proceedings. When deciding which spouse should get the pet, factors to consider might include who spent the most time with the pet during marriage, who was the primary caretaker regarding taking the animal to a vet or for walks or providing food and water.
Just as child custody cases in divorce can be highly emotionally charged, so too can spouses’ emotions get in the way from achieving a fair and agreeable settlement when it comes to a beloved pet. Finances, as well, are an intersecting issue, because it must be determined who will financially provide for a pet’s needs after divorce. Any Washington spouse currently facing a legal struggle regarding a pet in divorce may seek support by requesting a meeting with an experienced family law attorney.