Furry Friends and Divorce

Pet custody disputes can be emotionally charged, presenting a unique challenge during divorce proceedings. In Washington, where pets are considered property under the law, the determination of pet ownership becomes a crucial aspect. At the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer, we understand the complexities of these cases and offer insights into how pet custody matters are approached.

Legal Landscape in Washington: In Washington, pets are regarded as property, lacking specific custody laws akin to those for children. When divorcing spouses cannot agree on pet custody, courts typically award ownership to the spouse primarily responsible for the pet’s care. The presence of children may influence the decision, favoring the spouse with primary child custody.

Considerations for Pet Ownership:

  • Pre-marital Ownership: If one spouse owned the pet before marriage, that spouse is likely to retain possession according to Washington courts.
  • Unique Bond: Some courts recognize the unique bond between pets and owners, considering the emotional connection when determining custody.
  • Community Property: Pets acquired during the marriage are viewed as community property, subject to equitable division based on various factors.

Factors Influencing Court Decisions: Courts consider several factors when deciding pet ownership, including the original purchaser, financial responsibility, the pet’s value, documentation like bills of sale or contracts, registration details, vet records, the pet’s primary residence, and whether the pet was a gift.

Resolving Disputes Outside the Courtroom: Pet custody disputes can be settled amicably outside the courtroom. Couples may create agreements detailing shared custody arrangements or consider financial arrangements where one spouse compensates the other to relinquish their claim to the pet.

Legal Support from Erin Bradley McAleer’s Team: Divorce cases involving pets require specialized attention, and our legal team is committed to providing reliable and effective counsel. We understand the challenges involved and work to protect your best interests throughout the legal process.

Contact Erin Bradley McAleer’s Law Office: If you are facing a pet custody dispute in Washington, our family law attorneys are here to help. Contact the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer at (360) 334-6277 to schedule a consultation and receive personalized guidance tailored to your situation.