The number of couples squabbling over who gets custody of the pet cat or dog has increased across the country. About 25 percent of family lawyers, who responded to a 2006 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, said that they had noticed an increase in pet custody cases since 2001.  According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there’s every reason to believe that those numbers have increased since then.

In Washington State, cats and dogs are considered community property or separate property assets.  If you or your spouse introduced a pet cat or dog into your home after the marriage, the animal is considered your community asset.  However, if you brought the pet into the marriage, the animal is considered your separate property asset. 

Unlike houses and furniture, pets cannot be divided in half.  Therefore, pet custody cases revolve around the question of who gets to live with, and take care of the animal.   Seattle’s laws don’t include any provision for visitation of pets, so couples in a divorce will be required to reach an agreement about sharing time with the pet with the help of a Seattle family lawyer.

Although pets are treated as assets, there are strong emotional elements in a pet custody case.  Seattle family lawyers have found that judges have begun to consider these emotional factors in pet custody cases.

The good news is that happy stories involving pet custody abound.  With some effort and cooperation, couples can divorce, and can share custody of pets just as they share custody of children.

The Seattle pet custody lawyers at the The Seattle Family Law Group are dedicated to the representation of persons in divorce, child support, child custody, alimony and other family law issues across Seattle.

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