Fluffy And Fido May Be Heating Up Divorce Battles

Fluffy and Fido may be heating up divorce battles

For some couples, child custody may not be the largest source of contention during a divorce. In both New Jersey and across the United States, pets are increasingly taking center stage during divorce proceedings. According to one authority on the subject, certain judges even view pets as a sort of legal hybrid, a cross between children and property.

After almost twenty years of marriage, celebrities Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith decided to call it quits. But it wasn’t their teenage daughter that tipped their divorce proceedings towards a heated custody battle, it was their pets. Griffith insisted that she maintain custody of all three of the couple’s dogs, but Banderas may not have found this arrangement agreeable.

In another instance, a divorced couple spent three days in court, arguing over custody of a pet. The ex-wife claimed that she bought the dog prior to their marriage, but her ex disputed that fact. Ultimately, witnesses were called in who were able to vouch for the woman’s original ownership. Sadly, in that case, the husband hid the dog for three years after a judgment in the woman’s favor, and it died mere months after she got it back.

For couples waging war over custody of an animal, there is a law that can aid domestic violence victims in obtaining custody of their pet. For New Jersey couples proceeding down the path of divorce, it is possible to mediate the custody of a pet without stepping foot in a court room, where that decision would ultimately lie with a judge. However, if contentions run high or one party refuses to fully cooperate, it is possible to seek the help of the family court to determine the custody of a pet following a divorce.

Source: The Daily Beast, “Divorce Is Going to the Dogs, Literally“, Keli Goff, June 20, 2014


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