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Pet custody cases becoming more common in modern divorce

You've heard of fighting like dogs and cats -- but what about fighting over dogs and cats? Scores of California couples struggle to decide the fates of their beloved pets during their divorce. In fact, surveys show that pet custody battles have increased significantly during the past five years.

Members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers say that more courts are allowing pets to be considered during divorce proceedings and property division. About one in five attorneys say that the courts are more amenable to pet custody cases, in which dogs and cats are actually considered assets. Although this type of proceeding is more common than ever, still only about 15 percent of divorces involve pet custody cases.

Interestingly, some California divorcees think they can use their animals as "bargaining chips" during the divorce. In some cases, one spouse is far more attached to the animal. The other spouse thus threatens to seek custody of the animal as an asset, sometimes prompting the pet lover to make additional concessions in order to retain custody. Although this may seem like a viable option, attorneys say that such a strategy may actually backfire and cause serious harm to the aggressor.

If you are afraid that you will lose your pet during your California divorce, your fears may not necessarily be warranted. Attorneys say that most judges are able to determine whether a partner is simply trying to abuse their rights to their pets. Pet owners should not give in to their spouse's demands simply because they are concerned about losing custody of their animal.

A California divorce attorney may be able to provide additional information about your pet custody case. These professionals may help you pursue your fair share of the marital property during property division proceedings. A divorce attorney can be a valuable asset and ally in a California courtroom.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Fighting Over Cats and Dogs During a Divorce" Maria Cognetti, Mar. 24, 2014

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