Divorcing the Family Dog

Welpe im Scheidungskrieg

Many of the employees at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C. have pets at home—pets that they love and view as members of the family.  Clients going through a divorce often have questions about who gets to keep a beloved family pet.  Sometimes “pet parents” can come to an amicable resolution. But if you’re going through a divorce and you can’t agree, can a court order you to share “custody” of your four-legged friend? A contributor to the Indiana Lawyer recently recalled such a case:

When two women were divorcing in 2013, a New York judge agreed to hold a rare hearing on their fight over a dog. “Although Joey the miniature dachshund is not a human being and cannot be treated as such, he is decidedly more than a piece of property,” Judge Matthew Cooper wrote. The ruling was one of the first times a court had ever explained reasons for considering pets as more than property, making it influential even though Judge Cooper is a lower-court judge. The couple eventually settled their dispute out of court.

While courts may be hesitant to weigh in on animal issues, parties can frequently negotiate arrangements for their family pets. The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C. have experience dealing with this issue, and we are available to discuss what might be best for you and your furry friends. To make an appointment with one of our attorneys, call (317) 580-9295.

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