Pet Custody: Divorcing Couples Fighting Over Pets

Forget fighting like cats and dogs. These days, divorcing spouses are fighting over their cats and dogs.
On Tuesday, News 4 Tucson investigated the rising number of pet custody battles, which attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2006 say have increased substantially in the past decade.
Pets are considered property in every state in the country, according to the local news report, so judges often have their hands tied when couples come to them looking to reach custody agreements for their pooch.
“The court really doesn’t have any authority to give somebody rights of access or time with a pet,” Tucson attorney Elisabeth Benavidez said.
Instead, Benavidez said many couples are resolving their pet custody issues outside of court, hammering out civil agreements separate from the main divorce settlement to determine who gets the pets. In a recent case, Benavidez helped one divorced man secure visitation with his Chihuahuas every other day for at least an hour.  Conflict among divorcing pet owners has become so common that many lawyers are suggesting couples with pets sign “pre-pup agreements” in addition to a pre-nuptial agreement, the Daily Mail reported in March 2010.

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