We all know that dogs are man’s best friend – but when it comes to divorce, who should get the dog? That is the question being posed by New York courts, who are attempting to settle the custody debate between two women over ownership of their beloved pet. Those going through a divorce may not know that animals are actually considered marital assets, and they generally are not subject to the same types of custody rules that govern the legal oversight of children. This is especially true in New York, thanks to relatively outdated divorce rules that guide pet ownership

In this case, both women are fighting for custody of their 2-year-old pup. One of the women had given the puppy to her spouse after her partner was forced to give up her cat when they moved in together. Now, the recipient of the puppy refuses to surrender the dog, as she considers him her best friend; the dog always sleeps on her side of the bed. The couple was only married for a year when they suddenly split. Now, the woman who initially purchased the dog has custody, and she has moved to a different state.

In a landmark move, the judge the case – a self-proclaimed pet-lover – is setting a hearing date for the parties to determine the fate of the dog. Similar to a custody hearing, the meeting will include arguments from both sides about the role they play in the dog’s life. The judge in the case told news reporters that if couples can bicker over their summer homes in the Hamptons, then they have a right to a fair proceeding for their beloved pets. The animals, of course, carry a level of sentimental value that can rarely be quantified.

New York may soon be joining several other states that treat pets more like humans than like property. Although this is one of the state’s first serious dog custody cases, more are certain to appear. Divorcees who are worried about the fate of their animals may consult a qualified divorce attorney to find out more about their property division options.

Source: www.nypost.com, “Landmark custody battle over dog in divorce” Julia Marsh, Dec. 04, 2013