ARIZONA FAMILY LEGAL SERVICES
How Pet Custody is Determined in Divorce in Arizona
The last thing you should have to do after a messy divorce is give up your beloved pet to your former spouse. Nor should you have to take ownership of a pet you did not bring into the relationship unless you genuinely want to. If you are like most Arizonans planning on divorcing or in the midst of divorce, you are probably thinking about the fate of your furry friend(s). Let’s take a look at how pet custody is determined in an Arizona divorce.
Pet Custody in Arizona Divorces is Quite Complicated
Some states have altered laws on the books with language that permits divorce courts to consider the pet’s best interest, potentially creating a scenario in which the pet spends time with both divorcees. However, Arizona is a different story. The state of Arizona and several other states continue to see pets as a form of personal property. In other words, the pet is provided to one person, similar to how an indivisible asset is allocated. However, as detailed below, this approach to pet custody does not indicate your furry friend is denied consideration.
Factors that Determine Pet Custody in an Arizona Divorce
The custody of your pet amidst a divorce is determined by the close analysis of several factors. As an example, the amount time each spouse spends with the pet will partially dictate which of the two is most fit to have pet custody. If there have been any allegations of abuse, neglect or other mistreatment of the pet, those accusations must be addressed in divorce court.
Furthermore, if there are one or several kids in the family, their attachment to the pet will also be considered. Even the financial support for the pet is considered when determining custody. As an example, if one spouse pays for the majority of the animal’s care, food and other necessities and can prove it with receipts, he or she will have an edge for obtaining custody of their furry friend.
The Pet’s Well-Being is the Top Concern
Above all, the manner in which each spouse treats the animal is more important than any other factor. If it can be proven one spouse abused or neglected the pet, he or she probably won’t be provided with custody of the animal. Furthermore, if there is a history of any type of abuse of a spouse, former flame, child or other party, it can be used to argue against that individual obtaining custody of the pet.
What About Sharing Custody of a pet?
If your former husband or wife treats your pet kindly, you might be considering if there is the potential for the court to award shared custody of the animal. However, most Arizona family court judges will not consider such an arrangement. Judges do not want to grant two people with joint ownership of a pet as enforcing joint ownership of an animal is inherently difficult.
If both of the divorcees are adamant that they would like to continue interacting with the pet, there is the potential to come together through an agreement out of court. Mediators are available to help divorcees reach a mutually beneficial arrangement that works for both individuals as well as the pet. However, if you take the mediation route, you should know it is in your interest to have an Arizona divorce attorney by your side during the proceedings.