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Massachusetts property division: fighting over pets in divorce

There are numerous couples in Massachusetts who enjoy joint pet ownership. Unfortunately, when divorce enters into the picture, deciding what to do with an animal can cause quite a few problems. In fact, fighting over pets is actually a fairly common theme in divorce cases.

At the end of the day, according to the state, pets are considered property. Animals acquired during a marriage are considered shared property and subject to the rules of property division during the divorce process. A judge will often look at various factors, such as children, income and living space, when determining who will get to keep the pet.

There are couples who do want more options when it comes to pet custody. While the court will generally not weigh in on pet custody matters, divorcing couples may negotiate agreeable terms outside the courtroom. A custody arrangement can be drawn up with the assistance of legal counsel, if desired. By taking this kind of approach, both parties may be allowed to have continued access to the pets that they view more as family members rather than just as animals.

Fighting over pets in divorce happens more often than most would think. While there are sometimes valid reasons for a pet to be granted to one party, thankfully, there are options available that can grant both parties the access they desire — if they are willing to negotiate. Custody arrangements, much like those made for divorcing couples in Massachusetts with children, can be drafted and modified as necessary. Again, this is a task that can be completed with the help of an experienced family law attorney.

Source: detroitnews.con, “Divorce can unleash pet custody battles“, Ben Steverman, May 15, 2016

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