The break-up of Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith’s celebrity marriage has highlighted an emerging trend in divorce cases in Arizona and around the nation. The actress and actor promised to end their marriage in the nicest way possible. However, with the custody of their three dogs now at stake, it appears the divorce may not end as amicably as they hoped.
Although many people see their pets as members of the family, the law does not. Pets are considered personal property in family law courts. As a result, how pet custody issues are handled varies widely, depending on the judge who presides over a couple’s divorce case. Many judges decide who gets the pets the same way they might decide who can keep a prized piece of artwork or the family china.
The law is beginning to change because more and more money is being spent by people battling in court to keep their pets. Attorneys recommend couples consider covering the issue of pet custody in a prenuptial agreement. In cases where no agreement was made before marriage, some courts now allow visitation. Like many issues involved in a divorce case, fighting about who gets custody of the pets can involve upsetting emotions. Some ex-spouses will fight bitterly over every detail of a divorce simply because they don’t want the other spouse to win.
Pet custody is just one of many issues an ex-couple may face when they seek a divorce. Those planning to get married or those who are already married should consider addressing certain matters in a pre- or post-nuptial agreement. A divorce attorney may be able to offer more information about possible options in these situations.
Source: The Daily Beast, “Divorce Is Going to the Dogs, Literally“, Keli Goff, June 20, 2014