In a country where two-thirds of households own a pet and two out of five marriages fail, who gets custody of a shared pet is a common issue. Surprisingly, the law has very little to say on the matter.
Legally, pets are viewed as property, despite the fact they don't really have market value. As such, the division of property, including Fido, often falls to the judge. Facts a judge may take into account are who actually bought the pet, who it is registered under, and who paid for veterinary bills--yet if you have shared finances (yet another reason not to!) even that can be unclear.
But what if you want to share custody of the pet? So far, judges have steered clear of ordering joint custody arrangements or holding custody hearings as would be done with children. Joint pet owners must seek legal council separate from their divorce to draw up a shared custody contract for a pet, and even so it may be very difficult to enforce. Sadly, people often use pets against each other in acrimonious split-ups. One former divorce lawyer has actually started a mediation firm that specializes in resolving pet disputes out of court. Her take on it? "You hate your ex--I get that--but your pet doesn't."
Source: Bloomberg Business