Most of us who have a pet would consider them a part of the family, but according to New York State Law, they are not.

A friend of mine is going through a divorce and while he doesn't have any kids they do have an 8-year-old Golden Lab named Doug.

This is where the issues come in, both my friend and his soon to be ex-wife want to keep Doug.

According to Clement Law Firm, there are several factors that come into play when a family pet is in the mix of a divorce.

New York courts have expressly held that custody of dogs are not children and that custody of the family pet will not be based on the same standard as child custody.   In child custody cases the most important factor is what are the best interests of the children.

While dogs will not be treated is custody cases like children in New York, they also will not be treated as personal property.

Instead, to determine custody of dogs and cats, New York courts will use a "best for all concerned" standard.  In determining which party should obtain custody of the family pet, a court will consider:

  • How the pet was acquired
  • How the pet was cared for during the relationship
  • The actual arrangement between the parties for spending time with a pet after the parties split up.

My friend and his soon-to-be Ex bought the dog together when he was just 8 months old and have cared for him together for the past 7 years. While my friend does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to walks, exercising, and vet trips, his Ex handled the feedings and bathing.

Should the law change and have pets treated more like family?